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Meldonium and athlete – sports disgraced

A paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that the use of the now-banned drug meldonium has been “excessive and inappropriate” in 2015 and has been used by generally healthy athletes. On March 7, 2016, former world number one tennis star, Maria Sharapova of Russia announced that she had failed a drug test in Australia due to the detection of meldonium.

What is Meldonium

Chemically, meldonium is a propionate [3-(2,2,2-trimethylhydraziniumyl)propionate] that acts to inhibit fatty acid oxidation. At present it is marketed as cardiac drug by a Latvian pharmaceutical company, Grindeks.

Uses of meldonium

It is clinically used as anti-ischemia drug to treat

  • Angina and
  • Myocardial infarction

The drug has been registered for medical use in seven Eastern European countries — Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Moldova.

However, US Food and Drug Administration do not approve its use. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned its use by athletes since 1st of January, 2016.

WADA has banned its use because it artificially

  • Increases in endurance performance of athletes,
  • Improves rehabilitation after exercise,
  • Improves protection against stress, and
  • Enhances activations of central nervous system functions

So, WADA considers it against the sportsmanship and banned its use by athletes. Athletes use it with the intention of enhancing performance. WADA considers the drug to be a metabolic modulator, similar to insulin.

What is Ischemia?

  • It is a restriction in blood supply to tissues, causing a shortage of oxygen and glucose needed for cellular metabolism to keep tissue alive.
  • It is generally caused by problems with blood vessels, with resultant damage to or dysfunction of tissue.
  • It not only causes insufficiency of oxygen, but also reduced availability of nutrientsand inadequate removal of metabolites.

What is Myocardial Infarction (MI) or Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI)?

  • Commonly known as heart attack
  • It occurs when blood flow stops to a part of the causing damage to the heart muscle.
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