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Two Russian cyclists test positive for banned meldonium


MOSCOW — Russia’s troubles with the banned substance meldonium resurfaced Wednesday when officials confirmed that two track cyclists and an Olympic hopeful water polo player had failed doping tests.

Anastasia Chulkova, who won the points race at the 2012 world track championship, and former European bronze medalist Pavel Yakushevsky tested positive for the drug that was banned from Jan. 1.

The Russian cycling federation said in an e-mailed statement that both Chulkova and Yakushevsky stopped taking meldonium after the World Anti-Doping Agency said in September that the substance would be banned.
The federation said evidence points to “leftover traces,” but didn’t specify when the samples were taken.

“According to the data which we have, the amount of the substance in the doping sample is low,” the federation said.

Another Russian cyclist, road racer Eduard Vorganov, was suspended last month after testing positive for meldonium, the same drug that Maria Sharapova tested positive for at the Australian Open.

Separately, Russian Water Polo Federation spokeswoman Viktoria Kirina told The Associated Press on Wednesday that national team player Alexei Bugaichuk had failed a doping test at the European championships in January, when Russia reached the quarterfinals.

“He’s now suspended from all competitions until the circumstances are cleared up and until a decision from WADA and FINA,” she said.

Kirina said the amount of meldonium found in Bugaichuk’s sample was “very small,” likely leftover from consumption in October, while the substance was still legal. No other players tested positive, she added.

Russia’s performance at the European championship gave it a place at April’s final Olympic qualifying tournament. Kirina said she does not expect the team to be excluded from the tournament.

Also Wednesday, the International Biathlon Union said it had suspended an unnamed athlete who tested positive for a “substance defined under hormones and metabolic modulators,” a category which includes meldonium.

So far this year, all three doping cases in biathlon have involved meldonium, with provisional suspensions for Ukrainian athletes Olga Abramova and Artyom Tyshchenko and Russian biathlete Eduard Latypov, who won gold at last year’s world junior championships.