Russia facing Olympic humiliation after Sharapova doping scandal

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Russia's doping scandals are starting to pile up as four of the country's track and field athletes have tested positive for the drug meldonium.

It is a recently banned drug, the use of which saw tennis superstar Maria Sharapova provisionally suspended from her sport. The former world number one is just one of at least 16 Russian sportsmen and women caught using meldonium, since it was prohibited three months ago.

The news, which was reported by Reuters, has further dented Russia's efforts to overturn their previous international ban. Their athletes now find their road to this summer's Olympic Games in Rio even more difficult than ever.


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Russia was suspended for all international competitions last year, over allegations of state-sponsored doping, widespread cheating and corruption.

The country's sports minister says meldonium is a separate issue. Since Maria Sharapova's admission, at least 100 other athletes from multiple countries have tested positive for the drug.

Speed skating Olympic gold-medallist Semion Elistratov and four-time world champion swimmer Yulia Efimova have also been some of the nation's highest-profile athletes to have been tested positive for meldonium, with Efimova stating she was never informed that the drug was banned in an interview with Russia 24.

An excuse that has been used by many of the athletes who have produced positive results have claimed that the drug is still in their systems from using it last year, before the ban on the substance came into place.

According to the manufacturers of the drug, the athletes' excuses will fall on deaf ears, as they have said that it usually takes hours, if not days at an extreme, before the traces of melodonium dissolve from the body's system.

However, one Latvian manufacturer called Grindeks has said that although meldonium has a half-life of around four and six hours, it's "terminal elimination from the body may last several months".

Russia now has just a few months to get its suspension lifted, critical for a country that has long drawn pride from its record as an athletics superpower.

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