A few months and more than a hundred athlete suspensions into WADA’s ban of Meldonium, the World Anti-Doping Agency now admits that it has no clue how long Meldonium stays in a person’s system, and it may have erroneously punished athletes who stopped taking the drug before it was illegal. Because WADA didn’t bother with scientific research to figure that out. Because WADA is a fucking joke.
In new guidelines distributed today (which you can read in full at the bottom of this post), WADA admitted that positive tests may result from doses taken months ago, perhaps even before the substance was banned on Jan. 1. “There is currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times,” the guidelines say.
South African doping expert Professor Ross Tucker told the BBC, hopefully with a straight face:
“Perhaps many of the things they now find themselves on the defense for should probably have been done at the time they considered its banning.”
Positive tests for Meldonium, a heart medication manufactured and sold over-the-counter in Eastern Europe, are responsible for Maria Sharapova’s impending suspension and the Russian U18 hockey team pulling its entire roster out of competition the day before traveling to a tournament.
Indeed, the Meldonium ban has fallen particularly hard on Russian athletes, who make up nearly a third of the 120 or so positive tests registered since the ban went into place. In Russian sport, regular administrations of Meldonium are part of a regular training regimen, and trainers and athletes there are shocked that WADA would consider it an illegal performance-enhancing drug.
(Please keep in mind that just because WADA declares something illicit, that does not automatically make it morally so. Until 2004, WADA banned caffeine.)
The guidelines released today advise that panels adjudging athletes who tested positive “might justifiably find” that those athletes did not ingest Meldonium when it was illegal, and so absolve them of punishment. “In these circumstances, WADA considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete.”
Every time an athlete gets busted for doping, please never forget that the people banning the substances and determining the testing protocols are self-promoting hucksters and moralizing cranks, and never met a headline they couldn’t hump, science be damned.