Af­ter IAAF U-turn, Petrova’s Sus­pen­sion is Lifted

The Economic Times - - Sports -

Bul­gar­ian triple jumper Gabriela Petrova had her dop­ing sus­pen­sion lifted by the IAAF on Mon­day, less than a week af­ter the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) an­nounced an amnesty for ath­letes who had tested pos­i­tive for mel­do­nium be­fore March 1.

Petrova, sil­ver medal­list at the 2015 Euro­pean in­door cham­pi­onships in Prague, had de­nied any wrong­do­ing af­ter fail­ing an out-of-com­pe­ti­tion drug test on Feb. 6, say­ing she had stopped tak­ing the banned sub­stance in Septem­ber.

"On the ba­sis of WADA's no­tice is­sued on April 11, 2016 with re­spect to mel­do­nium find­ings and the specifics of your case, the pro­vi­sional sus­pen­sion from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions im­posed on March 31 is lifted with im­me­di­ate ef­fect," the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) wrote in a let­ter to Petrova, seen by Reuters. Last Wed­nes­day, WADA said it was un­able to es­tab­lish how quickly mel­do­nium, out­lawed since Jan. 1, cleared the hu­man body. Hence, WADA deemed that the "the pres­ence of less than one mi­cro­gram of mel­do­nium" in sam­ples pro­vided by ath­letes be­fore March 1 was ac­cept­able. "I can breathe with ease now," 23-year-old Petrova, who fin­ished fourth at the world out­door cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing last year, said on Mon­day. "This is the no­tice I've waited so long for." Petrova, who was named Bul­garia's Ath­lete of the Year in De­cem­ber, pulled out of the world in­door cham­pi­onships in Port­land, Ore­gon in March and is aim­ing to pro­duce her best form and win a medal at the Au­gust 5-21 Rio Olympics.

On Fri­day, at least 14 ath­letes from Rus­sia and Ge­or­gia had their dop­ing sus­pen­sions lifted fol­low­ing WADA's rul­ing. Olympic sil­ver medal­list Davit Modz­manashvili and Euro­pean sil­ver medal­list Beka Lom­tadze, both wrestlers from Ge­or­gia, were among those cleared.

Mel­do­nium, man­u­fac­tured for peo­ple suf­fer­ing from heart prob­lems, helps boost blood f low and in­creases the amount of oxy­gen taken in by the body, al­low­ing ath­letes to re­cover faster while train­ing.

The use of mel­do­nium was wide­spread be­fore the ban and since be­ing made il­le­gal on Jan 1. there have been at least 172 pos­i­tive sam­ples for the sub­stance -- in­clud­ing for­mer world num­ber one ten­nis player Maria Shara­pova. The Rus­sian five-times grand slam cham­pion, who said she took the drug for health rea­sons, has been pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended by the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion and is still wait­ing to hear the out­come of her case.

One study showed 490 ath­letes at last year's Euro­pean Games in Baku had taken it.

Grindeks, the Lat­vian com­pany that is the main sup­plier of the drug, says the sub­stance could pro­tect ath­letes from cell dam­age but is un­likely to im­prove their per­for­mance.

Triple jumper Gabriela Petrova

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