This story is over 5 years old.


NHL Bans Meldonium, Drug at Center of Russian Olympic Doping Scandal

The drug will be added to the league's list of banned substances for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
Photo by Wilfredo Lee/AP

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday that meldonium has been added to the league's list of banned substances for the upcoming 2016-17 season, which starts Oct. 12, shortly after the end of the World Cup of Hockey.

Meldonium is originally a Latvian heart medication meant to increase blood flow and its claim as a performance-enhancing drug is highly controversial considering many athletes, including Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, had reportedly been taking it for health reasons for years ahead of its ban. Sharapova recently received a two-year ban after testing positive for the substance.

Daly said the decision to ban meldonium was made for the same reason the World Anti-Doping Agency banned the drug in January of this year, which has to do with its potential performance-enhancing benefits, including increasing endurance and speeding up recovery time. WADA's addition of meldonium to its list of prohibited drugs is responsible for many Russian athletes being banned from the recent Rio Olympics and upcoming Paralympics. The Russian Paralympic team was also banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

Canadian wrestler Tamerlan Tagziev was handed a four-year ban this week after a positive test for meldonium.

The drug has also entered its way into international hockey. Just this year, ahead of the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Tournament, players on the Russian U18 team tested positive for meldonium and caused the entire roster to be switched out for the U17 team.