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Author Topic:   The Meldonium Mess
Percy
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Posts: 15645
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


(1)
Message 1 of 62 (780143)
03-11-2016 12:00 PM


Mario Sharapova this week announced that she had tested positive for the banned drug meldonium, dubbed a performance enhancer by the World Anti-Doping Agency as of January 1st. Originally prescribed meldonium years ago by her family doctor, Sharapova failed to check the list at the beginning of this year and tested positive during the Australian Open in January. The 28-year old will likely be banned for at least two years, effectively ending her career as a tennis star of the top rank. Many of her major sponsors have already ceased or suspended their relationship with her, Nike and Porsche among them.

But Maria is not alone. More Than 60 Athletes Have Tested Positive for Meldonium, reports the New York Times. This calls attention to a flawed process. When a drug is first added to the list of banned substances there should be a grace period. During the first year, or perhaps some portion of the first year, the first positive test should draw only a warning, after which the normal penalties would take effect.

Other affected stars:

  • Semion Elistratov (Russia, Olympic gold medalist, speedskating)
  • Pavel Kulizhnikov (Russian, former world champion, speedskating)
  • Davit Modzmanashvili (Georgia, Olympic silver medalist, wrestling)
  • Abeba Aregawi (Sweden, form world champion, running)

I will miss watching Sharapova on the court. She is a fierce and tenacious competitor, winning each of the four Grand Slams at least once.

--Percy


Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Rrhain, posted 03-11-2016 7:40 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply
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ooh-child
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Joined: 04-10-2009


Message 2 of 62 (780164)
03-11-2016 6:14 PM


When I first read the topic title, I thought this was about Trump's third trophy wife!
  
jar
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Posts: 29018
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 3 of 62 (780166)
03-11-2016 6:52 PM


I'm not sure I see the problem. The lists are published and the athletes should be able to read and know what they are putting in their bodies.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

  
Rrhain
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Posts: 6098
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003
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Message 4 of 62 (780167)
03-11-2016 7:40 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
03-11-2016 12:00 PM


Percy, there was a grace period. Meldonium was announced to be a banned substance back in September, effective January 1, by both the Russian and World Anti-Doping Agencies. Three months is plenty of time to work with your doctors about treatment plans, especially for a top-tier athlete who is working with medical professionals on a near-daily basis.

That, of course, leads to the question of why none of her doctors made mention of this. I should think that a sports professional who is subjected to random testing (where you have to tell the WADA of your daily schedule so that they can track you down to do a surprise test at any time) would be up to date on the standards for medical care such that changes to the banned drug schedule would be integrated in quickly.

Sharapova admits to having received the notice from the WADA, but claims she didn't read it. She also claims that because she was using the drug under another name (mildronate), that she didn't know that she was taking the substance that was banned.

It's sad, but she really has nobody to blame but herself. My understanding is that she is throwing herself on the mercy of the WADA, and I could understand why they might grant her a reprieve should they believe her that this was caused by confusion on her part regarding the name of the drug she was taking and what was listed on the schedule. But tennis is having a bit of scandal shock at the moment with fixing matches so there may not be too much sympathy.


Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.

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Hyroglyphx
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Posts: 5512
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006


Message 5 of 62 (780170)
03-12-2016 1:25 AM


Selective Bias
I'm a little torn on USADA and WADA. I think agencies monitoring performance enhancing drugs should exist, but USADA and WADA is notoriously selective in their scrutiny.

USADA has been trying to gain traction and popularity over the years, and most notably hit the motherload over the Lance Armstrong witch hunt. This isn't to say that Armstrong was in the right to blood dope, but the ferocity in which they went after him, and him alone, in a sport awash with performance enhancing drugs, highlights what they are really after. It's kind of like drug dealing -- they allow the small dealers a little leeway to go after the big fish. Armstrong was the prized hog. And ever since they finally figured out his scam, USADA has managed to legitimize themselves through that scandal. As a result, they have segued in to other professional sports, like Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

A number of MMA fighters have been caught taking Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and other enhancers. As a result, many have been suspended from sanctioned competitions for a year or two, at the most. In an absolutely bizarre twist, a fighter named Nick Diaz tested positive for marijuana and was suspended FOUR years, which pretty much means he will probably never compete again and which cuts in to his ability to make money.

This demonstrates a selective bias. That marijuana could be deemed a performance enhancing drug at all is laughable on its own, but to think that it is somehow worse than TRT, which absolutely is a performance enhancer, demonstrates a clear bias.

USADA and WADA are out to legitimize themselves. The more exposure they have, the more business they generate by having other sports accepting them as the official regulatory agencies. And ever since catching Armstrong, there has been a huge spike in the amount of competitions they test for with an ever-increasing list of banned substances. Busting people "doping" is how they say, "See? you need us." But at what point does eating a banana become a "performance enhancing drug" based solely on its positive benefits?

For this reason, I am very leery about their motivations and take them with a grain of salt.


"Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it" -- Thomas Paine

    
Percy
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Posts: 15645
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 6 of 62 (780175)
03-12-2016 9:52 AM


Just responding kind of generally, I never said anything hinting that I believed Maria didn't receive adequate warning or that she wasn't responsible. She received an email on December 22nd, it contained a link she could have clicked, and she didn't. About other notices it's been claimed she received, Maria responds here.

I do think suspensions of two years or more for a first time drug test failure are draconian. Suspensions should be divided into two parts: a punishment proportional to the seriousness of the offense, and an additional period to allow for the advantageous effects of the drug to wear off. Some drugs like steroids add muscle that last a long time, while amphetamines are out of the system in a day or two.

Sometimes the suspensions make no sense. A few years ago a tennis player was suspended for taking a substance provided by an ATP doctor (ATP is the Association of Tennis Professionals), the explanation being that the player is responsible for what he takes into his body. Another time a player took a cold medication whose list of ingredients was wrong, a fact that wasn't in question, and was suspended anyway. It often seems that there are too many long drug test suspensions. Every so often I see a good player on TV that I hadn't seen in a while and had forgotten about, and the explanation is often that they had served a long drug suspension.

Athletes are human, they make mistakes, and they should pay for those mistakes, but not with substantial portions of their already short careers unless the abuses are truly persistent.

--Percy


Replies to this message:
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Hyroglyphx
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Posts: 5512
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006


Message 7 of 62 (780249)
03-13-2016 3:07 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Percy
03-12-2016 9:52 AM


I do think suspensions of two years or more for a first time drug test failure are draconian. Suspensions should be divided into two parts: a punishment proportional to the seriousness of the offense

This pretty much summarizes my argument as well


"Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it" -- Thomas Paine

This message is a reply to:
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Percy
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Posts: 15645
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 8 of 62 (780275)
03-13-2016 1:23 PM


Increasing Numbers of Athletes Testing Positive for Meldonium
Today's New York Times reports that a Wave of Positive Tests for Meldonium Adds to Doping Crisis:

quote:
In the first 10 weeks of 2016, at least 99 athletes have tested positive for the drug, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, demonstrating widespread use of a substance believed to enhance endurance and aid recovery by improving blood flow throughout the body.

“Ninety-nine is an extraordinary number to get in that short a period,” said Richard Ings, the former chief executive of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.


But the numbers aren't unprecedented:

quote:
Experts and officials struggled to suggest a precedent, although David Howman, WADA’s director general, referred to 2010, when the stimulant methylhexaneamine was added to the banned list, resulting in a flurry of positive tests. Accredited WADA laboratories would report 123 that year in total. While that number may have been unimposing compared with the 337 positive tests for the anabolic steroid stanozolol in 2010, it did make an immediate impression, partly because of methylhexaneamine’s presence in many nutritional supplements.

The article describes many details of the drug evalutation and banning process, including assessments of how widespread use was:

quote:
The study analyzed 8,300 random urine samples collected at doping control sessions and found that 182, or 2.2 percent, contained meldonium, which athletes were still permitted to use at that stage.
...
Other studies have since underscored more dramatically the drug’s widespread use in certain communities. One such study, at last year’s European Games, suggested that nearly 500 of the 6,000 athletes competing were taking the drug. That study was also forwarded to WADA and its list committee.

WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) relies upon the help of partners like "national antidoping agencies and international sports federations" to notify atheletes, but most reasonable people would conclude that over a 100 drug test failures in less than 2½ months suggest lack of effective notification. WADA already has a position on this possibility:

quote:
Asked about the possibility that athletes were not getting the message, Craig Reedie, WADA’s president, said in an email, “We take great care to inform our stakeholders of any amendments to the prohibited list.”

But notice that he's describing the great care taken to notify WADA's *stakeholders*, not athletes. After they notify stakeholders the notification task is out of their hands. For example:

quote:
But Anna Antselovich, the head of Russia’s antidoping agency, told the state-run news agency Tass on Thursday that the sanctions against the agency in November had damaged the information chain on meldonium. “We had no possibility for a certain period of time to hold educational seminar with athletes, coaches and the personnel of national teams,” she told Tass.

Here's hoping that at a minimum the sheer number of test failures influences sanctioning bodies to avoid extreme penalties.

--Percy


Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by jar, posted 03-13-2016 2:33 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply
 Message 10 by nwr, posted 03-13-2016 4:46 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

    
jar
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Posts: 29018
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 9 of 62 (780278)
03-13-2016 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Percy
03-13-2016 1:23 PM


Re: Increasing Numbers of Athletes Testing Positive for Meldonium
Percy writes:

WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) relies upon the help of partners like "national antidoping agencies and international sports federations" to notify atheletes, but most reasonable people would conclude that over a 100 drug test failures in less than 2½ months suggest lack of effective notification.

Not necessarily. A reasonable person might also conclude that the so called crisis is just another example of professional athletes thinking they are of importance or beyond the rules.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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 Message 8 by Percy, posted 03-13-2016 1:23 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
nwr
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From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
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Message 10 of 62 (780287)
03-13-2016 4:46 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Percy
03-13-2016 1:23 PM


Re: Increasing Numbers of Athletes Testing Positive for Meldonium
WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) relies upon the help of partners like "national antidoping agencies and international sports federations" to notify atheletes, but most reasonable people would conclude that over a 100 drug test failures in less than 2½ months suggest lack of effective notification.

To me, it suggests a major epidemic of deliberate cheating by professional athletes.

I'm pretty sure most of them knew that this was a form of cheating, long before the drug was officially banned.

We should accept the obvious -- professional sports is completely and totally corrupt.


Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity

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Replies to this message:
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Stile
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Posts: 2896
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.4


(2)
Message 11 of 62 (780349)
03-14-2016 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by nwr
03-13-2016 4:46 PM


Re: Increasing Numbers of Athletes Testing Positive for Meldonium
nwr writes:

To me, it suggests a major epidemic of deliberate cheating by professional athletes.

...

We should accept the obvious -- professional sports is completely and totally corrupt.

I'm inclined to agree.

Think about it.
Did any average person know what Meldonium is or what it does (or helps prevent/mitigate) before this?
Once we learn what it does, is it something that a lot of people generally have?

Percy writes:

...most reasonable people would conclude that over a 100 drug test failures in less than 2½ months suggest lack of effective notification.

Perhaps, yes.

But, are we to believe that this obscure ailment is an epidemic throughout amazing athletes only and they all require Meldonium for alternative, benign health reasons?
Or are amazing athletes the only one taking this product because it does have side affects that happen to enhance physical abilities as well as being (formerly) off the no-no drug list?

In other words... why are 100 athletes taking this product already?

To me, nwr is on the right track here.

In general, though, I don't really care if athletes are doping or not.
I feel pity for the system and athletes as a whole. I don't see any way for them to get around this.
It's just something the entire athletic system will have to work through.

As long as athletics are a business, this will remain an issue.


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NoNukes
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Posts: 9650
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 12 of 62 (780351)
03-14-2016 12:41 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
03-11-2016 12:00 PM


When a drug is first added to the list of banned substances there should be a grace period.

Do players get advanced notice that a drug is going to be added to the list? Perhaps that notice constitutes a sufficient grace period.

Here is an opinion that it would be best to do away with drug testing altogether.

http://www.cnn.com/...port/opinion-russia-doping-london-2012

quote:
So why does sport continue to fight an unwinnable, not to mention expensive, battle? WADA's budget is about $30 million per year and it claims to be underfunded. What's more, it's ineffective.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


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Percy
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Posts: 15645
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 13 of 62 (780567)
03-16-2016 7:02 PM


Recent sentiment has turned strongly against Sharapova. While support within her home country of Russian remains strong, Scot Andy Murray, currently #3 in the world in the men's game, has strongly criticized her and expressed his hope that she be banned quickly. John McEnroe, a former world #1, has expressed skepticism about her explanations. Other lesser players on both the women's and men's side have also been strongly critical, the strongest words coming from Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic (#29), and not even about tennis: "She wasn't really liked. I respected her for her career, but she wasn't really nice nor polite. Let's be honest." Ouch!

Coverage in the tennis media is tending toward the view that her explanations are more excuses than anything else, and the United Nations has suspended her status as a goodwill ambassador.

I've learned a little bit more about the process. Sharapova is provisionally suspended pending a hearing. There's an arbitration panel (not sure how it reaches that point) that can classify the test failure as: significant (16-24 months), normal (8-16 months) or lite (0-8 months). There must be other details to the process, but I haven't come across them yet.

In the meantime Sharapova is lawyering up and has added "renowned lawyer Aaron Fleischer" (as described by Mary Carillo on the Tennis Channel, but a Google search turned up nothing - spelling?) to her legal team already led by John Haggerty.

--Percy


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NoNukes
Member
Posts: 9650
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 14 of 62 (780569)
03-16-2016 7:56 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Percy
03-16-2016 7:02 PM


Coverage in the tennis media is tending toward the view that her explanations are more excuses than anything else

I think that is in part because the medical reasons for decades of use are not considered plausible and the number of players who are using it dwarfs what medical reasons can explain. Beyond that, I cannot recall too many situations in other sports where fellow athletes expressed much sympathy for people caught during drug testing, and in some cases those fellow athletes were involved in their own performance enhancing drug scandals.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by Percy, posted 03-16-2016 7:02 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

    
Percy
Member
Posts: 15645
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 15 of 62 (784219)
05-14-2016 1:17 PM


Sharapova Hearing Next Week
Maria Sharapova's hearing before the International Tennis Federation's Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) is scheduled next week in London on Wednesday, May 18th. The TIU is same group that recently investigated reports of illegal betting on tennis matches. Rulings could be made public in as little as two weeks. Story: Sharapova Hearing on Meldonium Use Scheduled for Next Week

--Percy


    
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