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Kuksenkov Scratches Russian Nationals After Positive Doping Test for Meldonium
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New national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov has withdrawn from the Russian men's championships in Penza after it was revealed he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

New national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov has withdrawn from the Russian men's championships in Penza after it was revealed he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

Kuksenkov won the team title with the Volga District on Wednesday at the Russian championships in Penza, and captured the all-around title Friday. He will not compete in this weekend's apparatus finals, officials announced.

The medication meldonium, sold under the brand name Mildronate, is used to treat angina, diabetes, arrhythmia and myocardial infarction, along with a host of other medical conditions. It was only placed on the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1, 2016, under concerns that it was being used to bolster sports performance. Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova was recently suspended after testing positive for meldonium. Sharapova says she has long taken the medication for medical purposes and was unaware it had been placed on the banned list.

According to Russian coach and spokeswoman Valentina Rodionenko, Kuksenkov's test was conducted two weeks ago but the results were only just revealed.

"Yes, in Nicholas Kuksenkov's doping test they found meldonium, but the bare minimum concentration," Rodionenko said. "This sample was taken on March 15, but we have just learned the result recently. I can say that on the Russian national team in gymnastics we stopped using the drug even in August 2015! Then the representatives of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency consulted with our doctors, and then withdrew all the supplies of Mildronate from our first-aid kits. Which, I must say, were quite officially issued. I guarantee that our athletes did not take this drug since August. But still no one knows what the withdrawal period is of meldonium from the body. It's kind of a wild, weird situation that will need to be solved through joint efforts."

More than 120 athletes already have tested positive for meldonium since it went on the banned list on January 1. Sharapova is the most famous of those who have tested positive, and she stated she was unaware it was banned. However, many others who tested positive insisted they had not taken the drug since it was banned. Latvian corporation Grindeks, manufacturer of meldonium, told Reuters that "its terminal elimination from the body may last for several months" depending on factors such as dose, duration of treatment, and sensitivity of testing methods.

It remains to be seen whether this will impact Kuksenkov's chances of competing at the Olympics in Brazil this summer. He represented his native Ukraine at the 2012 Olympics in London, where the team finished a controversial fourth after a last-minute protest by Japan pushed Ukraine off the podium.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

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