World Junior Biathlon Championships gold medallist Eduard Latypov of Russia has become the latest athlete to record a positive test for meldonium, it has been announced.
The Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) confirmed that the 21-year-old tested positive for the substance, which was only added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned list on January 1, during an IBU Cup event in Breszno-Osrblie in Slovakia last month.
Latypov is the third biathlete to have been found to have been using the heart attack drug after Ukrainian pair Olga Abramova and Artem Tyshchenko.
The Russian and the Ukrainians have been provisionally suspended by the IBU.
“The suspension takes immediate effect,” an IBU statement said.
“A provisional suspension means that the athlete is banned temporarily from participating in any IBU competition.”
The news comes after five-times Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova announced at a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday (March 7) that she had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open in January.
The 28-year-old Russian revealed that she had tested positive for meldonium and details of several other cases then came to light.
A pair of Russian Olympic gold medallists - short track speed skater Semion Elistratov and ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova - have both allegedly provided samples containing the substance.
Speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, who broke the men’s 500 metres world record in November, also reportedly tested positive for meldonium.
"The media currently report widely on a number of other anti-doping cases in several sports," a statement from the International Skating Union (ISU) read.
"The ISU confirms that there exist other A-Sample Adverse Analytical Findings for certain skaters.
"However, the concerned individuals have requested the analysis of their B-Samples.
"Therefore the ISU will undertake public disclosure of those cases only if the respective B-Samples should be confirmed positive."
The drug's Latvian founder Ivars Kalvins claimed in 2009 that meldonium was given to Soviet soldiers during the Afghanistan War in the 1980s in order to boost endurance.
A report, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, then revealed widespread use of the drug at last year's European Games in Baku.
It revealed six gold medallists at the Games in the Azerbaijani capital had declared taking the substance and 66 out of the 762 athlete urine samples provided traces of it.
The acting head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), Anna Antselovich, has claimed today that WADA declaring them non-compliant following the Independent Commission reports, which alleged the presence of state-supported doping in the country, has adversely affected their preventative work on the use of meldonium.
“The restrictions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency on RUSADA in November-December last year could not but have its negative effect on our preventive work with sports federations to warn them about the imminent ban on meldonium,” she told news agency TASS.
“We had no possibility for a certain period of time to hold educative seminars with athletes, coaches and the personnel of national teams.
“Let me repeat again, all this happened at the time when it was necessary to expedite the work for warning that mildronate would be banned from January 1, 2016.
“It was important to notify about that but we had no such possibility.”
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko added that he “hopes that all these cases will force the athletes and Federations to avoid using this formula” and called for law officials in the country to investigate the doping scandal.
“I would like the law enforcement agencies to check everything,” he said.
“An administrative investigation is necessary.
“I do not rule out that some legal amendments may follow.
“Possibly criminal responsibility will be expanded.
“For now administrative punishment should certainly be introduced.”