Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has revealed a request has been made to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to find out whether the organisation carried out scientific research prior to adding meldonium to the list of banned substances.
Several of Russia's athletes have allegedly tested positive for the substance, a heart attack drug, which was added to the WADA banned list on January 1.
Developed in Lativa, meldonium was moved from the monitored to the prohibited list by WADA, after claims there was “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”.
The organisation confirmed on Friday (March 11) that there had been 99 adverse analytical findings since it was added to the banned list.
Mutko has previously denied that the drug had been given to national teams and called for it to be removed from the list of prohibited substances, but has now confirmed the Ministry of Sport are asking WADA to provide scientific research on the issue.
"Now we have sent a request to WADA asking it to give us information if they carried out research on meldonium washout period and if they could provide it to us," he told the Russian news agency TASS.
"At the same time, I would like to tell all our athletes, specialists and doctors: this drug needs to stop being taken.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed yesterday that WADA must avoid politicising the crisis in the country following the string of positive drug tests.
Tennis superstar Maria Sharapova is the most high profile Russian athlete to test positive to date, with the five-time Grand Slam winner announcing her failed test at January's Australian Open last Monday (March 7).
Speed skaters Semyon Elistratov and Pavel Kulizhnikov are also reported to have provided samples containing the substance, while the International Skating Union confirmed ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova had failed.
Rugby sevens player Alexey Mikhaltsov and his wife Alena were the latest names to be revealed on Saturday (March 12).
Ethiopia's Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse, Sweden's Ethiopian-born former world 1500 metres champion Abeba Aregawi and Georgian wrestler Davit Modzmanashvili are among the others implicated.
WADA President Craig Reedie has reiterated a call made last week by the organisation for more sponsors to help them with funding, at a WADA symposium in Lausanne.
"The public's confidence in sport was shattered in 2015 like never before, the public mood has soured and there is a general feeling that they're all at it," he told Reuters.
"Sport has had its wake up call, sport must ensure better governance if public and athletes are to uphold confidence in the system.
"Now is time to look at how we get greater funding for anti-doping, television broadcasters and sponsors could help fund clean sport."