Moscow, Russia: Two Russian rowers have tested positive for meldonium and withdrawn from the Olympic team for the Tokyo Games, the president of the Russian Rowing Federation said Wednesday.
Rowers Nikita Morgachyov, 40, and Pavel Sorin, 26, tested positive during a training session in Greece on June 17, said Alexei Svirin.
“We will do everything to investigate this story as deeply as possible and understand where it came from,” Svirin was quoted by news agency RIA Novosti as saying.
He said that he is still holding out hope but “that most likely Nikita and Pavel will not be able to participate in the Olympics.”
The two rowers were not included in the final list of the Russian delegation for the Tokyo Games unveiled on Wednesday.
Morgachyov, who has won four medals at the European Championships, would have been competing in his fourth Olympics. Sorin has never rowed in the Games.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport last year banned Russia from international competitions for two years in the latest punishment for a state-backed doping program at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
CAS, however, ruled that Russian athletes could compete at the Tokyo Games under a neutral flag and anthem if they prove no connection to doping.
Meldonium, which can be used for the treatment of coronary artery disease and aid poor blood flow, has been on the list of banned products of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) since January 2016.
Several dozen athletes have been sanctioned for using it, most notably former tennis star Maria Sharapova, who served a 15-month suspension for taking Mildronate, a trading name for meldonium.
The Russian, banned after failing a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open, said she had for some years taken the product, citing a family history of diabetes and also a magnesium deficiency.
WADA found in adding the substance to its banned list only weeks beforehand that medium enables more oxygen to be carried to muscle tissue and thereby found it to be a performance enhancer.