Maria Sharapova admitted to failing a drugs test..

What is meldonium – the drug that led to Maria Sharapova's downfall?

Published Add your comment

Maria Sharapova is facing a potential career-ending ban after testing positive for the illegal substance of meldonium, which was found in her blood while she competed in January's Australian Open.

The Russian tennis star rocked the sporting world after confirming the failed drugs test during a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday. The gathered press were expecting her to announce her retirement after a spate of injury problems.

Sharapova admitted she was ready to face the punishment handed to her by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and apologised for letting the sport she loves down.

Article continues below

"I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it," said Sharapova, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004.

However, she also curiously admitted that she had been taking the drug for over ten years and suggested that she was not aware that it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of banned substances.

Article continues below

The facts

So what is meldonium? Why was Sharapova taking it and why did WADA ban it? Here we run through the key points about this mysterious drug.

  • The drug encourages blood to flow to parts of the body to counteract the effects of a condition called ischaemia, common in patients suffering angina or heart failure.
  • It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA and is only issued to countries in the Baltic and Russia.
  • Up until it was banned on 1 January 2016, the drug was commonly used amongst Russian athletes as it is believed it improves exercise capacity in athletes.
  • Some athletes were using it in performance-enhancing dosages of 1000-2000mg/day prior to training to take advantage of its stimulating properties
  • Before WADA noted it as a drug of interest, some pharmaceutical companies had started marketing it as a performance enhancer.
  • WADA approved a request to add it to the banned list on 16 September 2015 and it came into effect on New Year's Day.
  • A documentary into systematic Russian doping by German TV station Hajo Seppelt claimed 17% of Russian athletes (724 of 4,316) had meldonium in their system.
  • It is classed as an S4 substance by WADA, which carries a standard ban of four years under the WADA code.
  • Several athletes have been banned after testing positive for the drug since January.

Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed Doping Test

Magnesium deficiency

Sharapova has claimed she took the drug to compensate for a magnesium deficiency that runs in her family. However, critics have since claimed that it was to counter the effects of training, thus making it performance enhancing.

While she may cry ignorance, it is also reported that Russian anti-doping regulators sent a memo to all Russian athletes regarding the incoming ban for the widely used drug.


Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

Serena Williams
Roger Federer
Australian Open
Novak Djokovic
Maria Sharapova

Article Comments

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport - Tennis Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again