New York, March 11: Even as the tennis world struggles to come to terms with the shocking revelations over ace player Maria Sharapova's suspension for failing the dope test, a New York Times report has said that more than 60 athletes, including Olympic medalists and world champions, have tested postive this year for Meldonium, according to anti-doping officials.
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Sharapova admitted to using the same drug, which has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) this year after being monitored last year, to enhance performance.
Sixty cases of meldonium positive have been recorded since January 1 and the number is growing, Ben Nicholas, a WADA spokesman, said in an email on Thursday, the NYT report said.
Many of those althletes have not been identified yet since their cases are still being scrutinised. The case of 28-year-old Sharapova, the most prominent athlete to be affected so far, came out in the open after she herself announced her failure in the dope test on Monday and regretted it.
She said she used meldonium for medical purposes since 2006 on a doctor's recommendation and was unaware that it was banned this year.
As per the NYT report, Olympic gold-winner Semion Elistratov from Russia; world champion speedskater Pavel Kulizhnikov, also from Russia; Olympic silver-winning wrestler Davit Modzmananshvili from Georgia and Swedish world champion runner Abebe Aregawi were among the athletes who tested positive.
Top sources in WADA said they were not surprised with so many positive cases. WADA Director General David Howman said the players were not careful despite being given repeated warnings.