Maria Sharapova has been taking meldonium for ten years, a fact she freely admits. What surprised the tennis star this January when she failed a drug test at the Australian Open was that the controlled substance had been added to the banned substance list for tour players. Also known as mildonate, meldonium is an anti-ischemic drug that — according a paper at the National Institutes of Health — demonstrates an “increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system (CNS) functions.” Sharapova says she has been taking meldonium as a “medication” — since 2006.
Recently meldonium was in the sports news when the Ethiopian-born Swedish runner Abeba Aregawi tested positive for it. Aregawi is the 1500 meter world champion.