Entire Russian U18 Hockey Team Expelled for PEDs on Eve of IIHF World Championships
Just one week before the IIHF U18 World Championships, the entire roster of Team Russia has been replaced and their coach fired after more than half of the 30 players in the training camp tested positive for Meldonium.
The news broke on Wedesnday, the day before the Russian U18 hockey team was scheduled to depart for Grand Forks, North Dakota, where the U18 Championships are being held. The U18 roster will be replaced with the U17 team.
Meldonium is the drug for which Maria Sharapova tested positive at the Australian Open. It was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances on January 1, but is not a particularly pernicious substance. Meldonium is a heart medication that increases blood flow and carries more oxygen to muscle tissue. In athletes it helps improve endurance. While not available at all in North American and Western Europe, Meldonium is available over the counter in Russia and the Baltic. It’s been used by Russian athletes for years.
Here’s what the New York Times had to say about the use of Meldonium in a recent article:
Until the fall, Russian teams had used the drug regularly and openly, viewing it as a remedy for fending off exhaustion and heart problems. Most team coaches would keep a supply, administering it along with other standard vitamins.
“I’ve been working for 20 years; we could never imagine that it would be included as a doping substance,” said Sergei Sheremetiev, a physician with Russia’s ski-jumping team.
At this point we don’t know how more than 15 minors came to test positive for a banned (but not illegal) substance. But given the firing of Russian U18 coach Vitali Prokhorov, it’s obvious the Russian hockey federation is holding him accountable.
Maybe he, like Maria Sharapova, just didn’t read his email.