An Indian Under-18 wrestler Nisha received a four-year doping ban last week after testing positive for meldonium, the drug that led to the suspension of Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova in 2016, reported Indian Express on Friday.
According to a the report, Nisha said she was unaware the drug was in her system and had taken the injection as a muscle relaxant on the advice of her brother. The incident occurred when she was she was at her village in Adiyana, Panipat before leaving for the Sports Authority of India training centre in Lucknow.
Meldonium was categorised as a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency only at the start of 2016 after a number of Russian athletes were found to be using it. It is a doctor-prescribed drug for the heart and helps increase blood flow. While several athletes found using meldonium were suspended for doping violations in the last year, the most high-profile one was Sharapova who tested positive during the 2016 Australian Open.
However, the drug has been largely used in Soviet countries and hadn’t reached India as yet. Hence, a junior athlete in a village in Haryana consuming it could be a cause for worry.
The Indian Express report further states that during the hearing, the National Anti-Doping Agency lawyers argued that she had consumed it at her own risk without consulting the coach or any other official or checking whether the substance was prohibited. The image of the foil containing the vials of the injection was also presented, but the details of the contents were printed in Russian.
Parth Goswami, the lawyer representing Nisha, said that he would appeal to get the four-year ban reduced.