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Putin says banned drug meldonium not ‘doping’

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday defended the use of the banned drug meldonium, saying athletes’ use of the performance-boosting drug does not constitute doping.

“This drug has nothing to do with doping,” Putin said during an annual call-in show. “It does not impact results at all. It simply keeps the heart muscle in good condition under high strain.” 

Since tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted last month that she tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open, a number of high-profile Russian athletes - including Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova - have also tested positive for the drug.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said earlier this month that 40 Russian athletes had tested positive for the drug since a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ban came into force on January 1.

The minister said up to 90 per cent of Russian athletes who tested positive for meldonium had underestimated how long it takes for the drug to leave the body.
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