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Clever Consult Sets Precedent for Meldonium Cases

Clever Consult lawyers proved that consuming ordinary nutritional products might lead to a positive doping test result.  

On 30 September 2021, the RUSADA Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee concluded hearings on the case of Natalia Studenikina, a cyclist who tested positive for meldonium in 2019.

The athlete promptly turned to Clever Consult for advice, as she was sure that she did not use anything prohibited, including the long-banned meldonium. We conducted a thorough analysis of everything that the athlete used and consumed. Finally, after the elimination of a number of versions, the suspicion fell on products purchased on the food marketplace. In order to test this theory, our specialists initiated a scientific research carried out in cooperation with the Kuban State University.

The result was overwhelming: it turns out that the consumption of farm products can lead to a positive test result for meldonium. That is notably the case of cow milk, dairy products produced from the milk of cows and chicken meat, as well. As early as at the end of July 2020 RUSADA lifted the provisional suspension imposed on the athlete on the grounds that the adverse analytical finding might have been caused by the use of a contaminated product.

The laboratory team of the Kuban State University led by Doctor Azamat Temerdashev, Ph.D., a prominent expert in analytical chemistry, carried out the research.In August 2020, the results were published in one of the most respected peer-reviewed scientific journals – Heliyon.

WADA took an interest in the outcomes of the Russian scientists’ work as well as in the methods developed by them to detect meldonium in cow milk, and conducted its own research. The WADA study involved a group of volunteers who took small single doses of milk, which contained meldonium. It confirmed the findings of Dr. Temerdashev’s research group and enriched the scientific knowledge with new facts and evidence on the detection of this substance.

Following the hearing held on 30 September 2021 the RUSADA Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee chose not to impose any period of ineligibility on the athlete and issued a reprimand.

“This is clearly an emblematic case: it sets a precedent for meldonium cases. Needless to say, the very fact that consumption of milk can result in an adverse analytical finding came as a surprise to both the athlete and us,” Anna Antseliovich, head of sports practice said.

“Athletes should exercise caution with organic products. And, apparently anti-doping organizations need to take a closer look at this issue and perhaps amend technical documents for laboratories in the part of the criteria to classify the analytical finding as adverse”, Anna Antseliovich added.

Andrey Sidorenko, Managing Partner of Clever Consult, commented on the decision, “Clever Consult has done a tremendous job, as usually taking a non-conventional approach and getting to the bottom of each problem. I am proud of our team.”

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