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LOS ANGELES, March 12. /TASS/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has dismissed the rumors she had received five warnings the World Anti-Doping Agency had included the medical formula meldonium in its list of prohibited substances.
Last Monday Sharapova declared that her sample taken during the 2016 Australian Open tested positive for meldonium. Since January 1, 2016 the medication has been in S4 class (hormones and metabolic modulators) on the black list of the World Anti-Doping Agency. In sports, meldonium (mildronate) is used to enhance the human body’s endurance and ability to resist high physical strain during training and nervous and psychological stress during competitions. Starting from January 1, 2016 the presence of this substance in the athlete’s body has been regarded as a violation of anti-doping rules. Sharapova also said she had received a letter from WADA with a new list of prohibited formulas, but did not look at it well enough.
Later, some European mass media carried reports professional athletes had been getting numerous warnings on the eve of each expansion of the list of prohibited drugs. Some sources claim that Sharapova had received at least five warnings of the coming changes.
In her latest post in the social network Facebook Sharapova wrote that some mass media were distorting information, exaggerating facts or misinterpreting the real state of affairs.
"Some in the media distort, exaggerate and fail to accurately report the facts about what happened. A report said that I had been warned five times about the upcoming ban on the medicine I was taking. That is not true and it never happened. I already said about the December 22, 2015 email I received. Its subject line was "Main Changes to the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme for 2016." I should have paid more attention to it.But the other "communications"? They were buried in newsletters, websites, or handouts."
Sharapova complains that in most cases the information about changes to the anti-doping programs and other affairs related with the struggle against prohibited substances were very hard for athletes to get to. As an example she mentioned a letter from one of the tennis associations titled Player News, dated December 18.
"It contained a newsletter on a website that contained tons of information about travel, upcoming tournaments, rankings, statistics, bulletin board notices, happy birthday wishes, and yes, anti-doping information. On that email, if a player wanted to find the specific facts about medicine added to the anti-doping list, it was necessary to open the "Player News" email, read through about a dozen unrelated links, find the "Player Zone" link, enter a password, enter a username, read a home screen with more than three dozen different links covering multiple topics, find the "2016 Changes to Tennis Anti-Doping Program and Information" link, click on it and then read a page with approximately three dozen more links covering multiple anti-doping matters. Then you had to click the correct link, open it up, scroll down to page two and that’s where you would find a different name for the medication I was taking.
In other words, in order to be aware of this "warning", you had to open an email with a subject line having nothing to do with anti-doping, click on a webpage, enter a password, enter a username, hunt, click, hunt, click, hunt, click, scroll and read. I guess some in the media can call that a warning. I think most people would call it too hard to find."
Earlier, British media claimed that Sharapova may face a disqualification at least for two years, if the abuse of meldonium was recognized not deliberate. Otherwise the suspension’s duration may prove twice as long.
The International Tennis Federation has confirmed that Sharapova will be suspended as of March 12. Sharapova tested positive for meldonium on January 26 and on March 2 she faced the charges. She will be unable to play until a verdict has been pronounced.