Maria Sharapova seems to have been dragged into the political bashing of Russia and Eastern bloc countries that has been evident of late. A report by ABC online says she was banned after a test carried out at the Australian Open found meldonium in her system. Sharapova has been taking this drug since 2006 to help her with a magnesium deficiency [see video at bottom of article for more on magnesium deficiencies] and because of a family history of diabetes which showed in tests. “I was getting sick very often and I had a deficiency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes, and there were signs of diabetes. That is one of the medications, along with others that I received”, she said. WADA considers the drug to be a metabolic modulator similar to insulin.
The drug she was taking was put on the banned list by WADA in September 2015 and it took effect in January 2016. The International Tennis Federations (ITF) Tennis anti doping programme statement regarding Maria Sharapova states ‘That sample was analysed by a World anti-doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, which returned a positive for Meldonium, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA code and, therefore also the TADP’.
A WADA accredited laboratory, In other words a US laboratory? Why am I sceptical?
Well Meldonium is clinically used to treat angina and myocardial infarction after a trial in 2005 showed that with lisinoprol it may improve the quality of life, exercise capacity, and mechanisms of peripheral circulation of patients with chronic heart failure. Meldonium is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US so it is not available in the US. Meldonium is manufactured and marketed in Latvia by a pharmaceutical company named Grindeks. The developer of Meldonium, Ivars Kalvins, in regards to being on the banned list has said “a stupidity, with background plot which is either politically or economically motivated”. I totally agree.
Would things be different if the company and developer were US based? And let’s say if Creatine was Latvian or Russian based and Meldonium was US based, which one would be banned?
Creatine occurs naturally in the human body and helps to provide energy to cells and muscles in the body, mainly muscle. Our body’s blood contains about 1% Creatine. Creatine supplements (synthetically made) are used by athletes to increase high intensity athletic performance and assist in building muscle mass. One study completed in 2008 showed that levels of insulin like growth factor-1 in muscle increased by 15% with Creatine supplementation. So WADA banned Meldonium because it’s similar to insulin yet Creatine is not banned. Scientific evidence shows that Creatine use can increase maximum power and performance in high intensity anaerobic repetitive work. So weight lifters and sprinters would benefit not long distance runners for instance. A Creatine study published in 2008 found a 22% increase in resting Testosterone levels in young males after a 10 week resistance training program.
Even though Creatine is not considered doping by WADA and a majority of sporting bodies, the Northern Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the US has ruled that Colleges could not provide Creatine supplements to their athletes but athletes can obtain it and use it independently as they wish. Why isn’t Creatine banned again?
Creatine supplements were not available commercially until a company, Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) introduced it to the market in 1993. EAS are based in California, USA and are now are a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories. EAS was founded in 1992 by a biochemist and a businessman and then in December 1992 they acquired 1 kilogram of Creatine and began trials. Abbott Laboratories are based in Illinois, USA and operate in more than 150 countries. They have many subsidiary companies under their name.
Somehow I don’t see Creatine being banned anytime soon unless Abbott Laboratories get bought out by a Chinese company. This could happen seeing how their share price is headed downhill and they are laying off workers and replacing them by outsourcing to an Indian company. I wonder what the US will find next to push yet another country down. Maybe the FBI will find something that isn’t controlled by the US like FIFA and do some of that work that they do best.