Background The aim of this report was to estimate the prevalence of meldonium use in athletes competing in the Baku 2015 European Games to contribute to the surveillance of substances on the 2015 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Monitoring Program. Meldonium is reported to be used by athletes to potentially enhance personal performance and shorten the recovery period after physical activity.
Methods Three sources of data were reviewed to determine the prevalence of meldonium use during the Games including: (1) athlete self-reported declarations of drug and supplement use; (2) declarations from National Olympic Committee medical teams of the list of medicines that they imported into Azerbaijan as part of their stock of drugs for administration; (3) results from the antidoping laboratories reporting the detection of meldonium.
Results Meldonium was declared as imported into Azerbaijan by 2 of 50 National Olympic Committee medical teams at the Games, but athletes from 6 countries declared the use of meldonium. Only 23 of the 662 (3.5%) athletes tested from 8 to 28 June 2015 declared the personal use of meldonium, which included 13 competition winners. However, 66 of the total 762 (8.7%) athlete urine samples analysed during the Games and during precompetition tested positive for meldonium. Meldonium use was detected in athletes competing in 15 of the 21 sports during the Games.
Conclusions This study highlights the widespread and inappropriate use and prescribing of this prescription drug in a generally healthy athlete population. Subsequent to these findings, WADA has included meldonium as a prohibited substance on the 2016 List of Prohibited Substances.
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