July 29, 2016
USADA announced today that Nikita Lobintsev, of Yekaterinburg, Russia, an athlete in the sport of swimming, has tested positive for a prohibited substance, which was determined to have been ingested by him without fault or negligence pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) guidance concerning meldonium.
Lobintsev, 27, tested positive for meldonium as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample he provided on June 16, 2016. Meldonium is a non-specified substance that was added to the WADA Prohibited List in 2016. It is in the category of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is now prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) National Anti-Doping Policies (“USOC NADP”), and the Fédération Internationale de Natation (“FINA”) Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the WADA Code (the “Code”) and the WADA Prohibited List.
Lobintsev confirmed that at the age of 19, he first received meldonium from the Russian national swimming team doctor. Lobintsev said meldonium was recommended by the doctor to protect his heart during strenuous training for competitions.
Following the advice of the national swimming team doctor, Lobintsev continued to use meldonium approximately once a year. Lobinstev was able to obtain meldonium without a prescription because it is available over-the-counter in drug stores in Russia. In 2015, Lobintsev used meldonium after the World Championships in August and used meldonium again in late September, reporting that his use ended on or around October 3, 2015.
After a thorough review of the case, USADA concluded that the low meldonium concentration in the athlete’s urine sample, combined with the athlete’s explanation of use, was consistent with ingestion prior to the substance being officially prohibited on January 1, 2016. Based on the latest guidance offered by WADA on June 30, 2016, for cases involving meldonium, Lobintsev will not face a period of ineligibility or loss of results obtained on or subsequent to June 16, 2016, the day his sample was collected.
“We have seen a trend of medical practitioners advising apparently healthy, young athletes in 2015, before meldonium was included on the WADA Prohibited List, to use this pharmaceutical product in connection with athletic training and performance,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “The disturbing pattern of use associated with this performance-enhancing drug appears to be one more example of a growing practice in sport in which coaches ask for, physicians prescribe, and athletes use pharmaceuticals not for their primary purpose of health and safety, but to enhance athletic performance.”
In an effort to aid athletes, as well as all support team members such as parents and coaches, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on its website on the testing process and prohibited substances, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. In addition, the agency manages a drug reference hotline, Drug Reference Online (www.GlobalDRO.com), conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and proactively distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as the Prohibited List, easy-reference wallet cards, periodic newsletters, and protocol and policy reference documentation.
USADA is responsible for the testing and results management process for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs.