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The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has banned Maria Sharapova for two years for using prohibited drug meldonium.

Maria Sharapova was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January’s Australian Open.

Meldonium, a heart disease drug, which 29-year-old Russian says she has been taking since 2006 for health issues, became a banned substance on January 1, 2016.

The five-time Grand Slam winner said she “cannot accept” the “unfairly harsh” ban – and will appeal.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Maria Sharapova will challenge the suspension, which is backdated to January 26, 2016, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In a statement, Maria Sharapova said the tribunal concluded her offence was “unintentional” and that she had not tried to use a “performance-enhancing substance”.

However, she claimed the ITF had asked the tribunal to impose a four-year ban, adding it “spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules”.

The tribunal ruling said Maria Sharapova tested positive for meldonium in an out-of competition test on February 2, as well as in the aftermath of her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on January 26. It treated both results as a single anti-doping violation.

The ITF will not appeal against the tribunal’s decision.

Nike, which suspended its relationship with Maria Sharapova in January, said it would “continue to partner” the Russian, based on the tribunal’s findings.

Maria Sharapova was Forbes‘ highest-paid female athlete for 11 consecutive years, until Serena Williams moved above her in 2016.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said in April that scientists were unsure how long meldonium stayed in the system, and suggested athletes who tested positive before March 1 could avoid bans, provided they had stopped taking it before January 1.

Maria Sharapova had already admitted she continued taking the substance past that date, saying she was unaware it had been added to the banned list as she knew it by another name – mildronate.

In reaching its verdict, the ITF recognized Maria Sharapova had not intentionally broken anti-doping rules, as she did not know that mildronate contained a banned substance from January 2016.

Russia’s anti-doping ex-chief Nikita Kamaev has died, the RUSADA agency says.

Nikita Kamaev’s death comes two months after he resigned his post following a doping scandal in Russian athletics.

RUSADA said Nikita Kamaev’s cause of death was “a massive heart attack”.

Russia was suspended from international athletics last November. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accused Russian athletics of state-backed doping, corruption and extortion.

“He will remain in our memories as an experienced and understanding leader, distinguished by his high professionalism,” the RUSADA statement said, adding that Nikita Kamaev was able to create a “friendly atmosphere” in his team.

Photo AP

Photo AP

“He complained of heartache after a skiing session,” RUSADA’s former director general Ramil Khabriev was quoted as saying by Russia’s Tass news agency.

“He had never complained about heart problems, at least to me. Maybe his wife knew about such problems.”

Russia was provisionally suspended from international athletics, including the Olympic Games, in November by the International Association of Athletic Associations (IAAF).

The IAAF took action following the WADA report.

The suspension will remain in place until Russia convinces athletics authorities it has sufficiently changed its practices.

Along with Argentina, Ukraine, Bolivia, Andorra and Israel, Russia was deemed in breach of Wada codes.

RUSADA was prohibited from carrying out any WADA-related anti-doping activity.

Nikita Kamaev resigned from RUSADA in December 2015 along with all the organization’s other top executives as Russia began work on lifting the ban in time for its athletes to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.


A new study found that taking paracetamol before a workout can stop you overheating.

Researchers found paracetamol helps cyclists exercise for longer in hot conditions by reducing the impact of heart exertion.

It was already known that paracetamol swallowed before exercise can lift performance through a reduction in perceived pain.

The latest study shows the positive effect in hot conditions. Researchers at the University of Kent in UK said the drug appears to reduce the body’s temperature during exercise, which subsequently improves tolerance to stifling heat.

The study involved 11 young recreational exercisers, all male, who were given three exercise challenges.

They consumed single doses of paracetamol, or a placebo, before cycling at a fixed intensity for as long as they could in temperatures of 18C (64F) and 30C (86F).

During the exercise, measures of core and skin temperature were recorded, alongside the participants’ perception of the heat.

The results showed the drug allowed them to cycle significantly longer at 30C – by an average of four minutes.

Researchers found paracetamol helps cyclists exercise for longer in hot conditions by reducing the impact of heart exertion

Researchers found paracetamol helps cyclists exercise for longer in hot conditions by reducing the impact of heart exertion

Men had a significantly lower core, skin and body temperature and found the exercise produced less heat strain.

Dr. Lex Mauger, who led the study at The University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, said the study raised questions that needed to be settled by sports bodies, including “rescue remedies” for people undertaking exercise in hot climates.

He said: “Firstly, consideration by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and local anti-doping authorities should be made about the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in sport – on both health and performance grounds.

“Secondly, the utility of paracetamol as a first-response drug to exertional heat illness should be investigated.”

The same research team has previously shown that paracetamol can improve endurance performance through a reduction in exercise-induced pain.

Dr. Lex Mauger added: “Whilst we have found that paracetamol improves the time someone can exercise in the heat, and that this occurs alongside a reduced body temperature, we did not measure the specific mechanisms by which this may have occurred.

“It is important now to try and isolate how paracetamol reduced participants’ body temperature during exercise.”

In a 2008 study, researchers at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, gave paracetamol to 10 cyclists before they completed a simulated 10-mile time trial.

On average, they completed this time trial 30 seconds faster after taking the drug than when they performed the same test after taking a placebo.

The cyclists’ ratings of perceived exertion were the same on both occasions, which led to the conclusion that paracetamol was improving performance capacity by reducing pain.

The study is reported in the journal Experimental Physiology.