Vitaly Mutko and Yulia Efimova

Moscow, July 13 (IANS) Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has wished Olympic success to vindicated Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova after the International Swimming Federation (FINA) withdrew all meldonium abuse charges against the four-time world champion.

Efimova, who is Russia’s 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, and many times winner of European tournaments, announced in March that her doping sample taken in February had shown the presence of banned substance meldonium. The 24-year-old was suspended immediately from all international tournaments, reports Tass.

Earlier on Tuesday, FINA withdrew all meldonium abuse charges from Efimova, who now has been included in the Russian Olympic team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro starting on August 5.

“Let her work. We believe and continue believing in her good performance at the 2016 Olympic Games. It is also true of all the athletes, the charges against whom will now be withdrawn. There has been so much criticism. They have created a mountain out of a molehill,” Mutko told TASS on Tuesday.

“It was wrong that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) acted that way. It ought to have conducted a research prior to imposing bans,” the sports minister stressed.

“We excruciated and criticised ourselves saying we should study each formula. We certainly should but it is not our function. It is necessary to be responsible for sport and people.”

A total of 31 Russian athletes have been suspected of using meldonium. Almost 300 athletes have tested positive for the drug. Charges against most of them have already been dropped.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova ,however, was banned from competitions for two years (as of January 26, 2016) after she had admitted taking meldonium for 10 years because of various health problems.

Well-known Russian boxer Alexander Povetkin had to postpone his bout scheduled for May 21 because meldonium traces had been found in one of his blood samples. The World Boxing Council is to pass a decision on Povetkin in July.

Athletes use meldonium (mildronate) to strengthen endurance to physical strains during training sessions as well as for easing emotional, nervous and psychological stresses at competitions.

The drug is also as a medication for heart diseases in some CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries.

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