Riga: The inventor of the drug Meldonium has warned that the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) decision to outlaw the formula may soon contribute to a higher death rate among professional athletes.
Ivars Kalnins, of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, invented Meldonium (also known as mildronate) back in the Soviet era. Since January 1, 2016, the drug has featured on WADA's blacklist. Several Russian athletes have proven to have used it lately, reports Tass.
"The ban on the drug is a crime," said Kalvins. "We are surely to see the rate of deaths of professional athletes after competitions climb. Who will be responsible for that? Certainly, not WADA people. They will be throwing hands up in confusion."
"The blame will be placed squarely on the athletes for breaking the limits. Their decision strips the athletes of a chance to protect themselves and stay alive."
"The formula has been on the market for 32 years. And all of a sudden it is blacklisted. Fine, just fine. The athletes have been punished for their wish to go on living," said Kalvins.
Meldonium is used to treat ischaemia: a lack of blood flow to parts of the body, particularly in cases of angina or heart failure. It is manufactured in Latvia and only distributed in Baltic countries and Russia.
It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States and is not authorised in the rest of Europe. It increases blood flow, which improves exercise capacity in athletes, and is particularly helpful in treating heart ailments.
WDA found "evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance" by virtue of carrying more oxygen to muscle tissue" and has hence banned it.
The presence of this substance identified in the athlete's blood during or between competitions is a violation of the current anti-doping rules. It belongs with the S4 class on WADA's blacklist (hormones and metabolic modulators).
According to the drug's inventor, no scientist in the world still has clear statistics that might confirm how long it takes Meldonium to leave the human body.
"WADA has blacklisted it as a prohibited formula, but nobody knows for how long it may stay in the human body. Nobody has ever conducted research into this matter yet," Kalvins said.
"There had been no need for such research. Clearly, it may be not hours, but days, or possibly weeks. It all depends on the accuracy of the method of testing. You may identify the traces of medications you took three months ago, provided you have the equipment that is sensitive enough."
Kalvins explained that from the medical point of view it is important to know the period over which 50 percent of the drug in question leaves the human body, and not the entire amount.
"For medical purposes it is essential to know the period of half-dissimilation. In other words, the period of time when half of the drug is out," he said.
"In some cases this may happen over 18 hours, and in others, over eight hours. But nobody cares how much time will be necessary for the 'tailing' to disappear without a trace. Will the drug begin to be accumulated in the human body if you start taking it again? No statistics are available at this point."