Four Russian judokas test positive for meldonium

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Moscow (AFP)

Four Russian judokas are the latest athletes to test positive for meldonium as the scandal over the banned substance continues to rock the country, local media reported on Monday.

An unnamed source told TASS news agency that the four judokas are the 2012 world champion Mikhail Pulyaev, Denis Yartsev, Natalia Kondratieva and Yekaterina Valkova.

The country's judo federation, however, refused to comment on the case or name any athletes who had tested positive for the banned medicine.

Meldonium was thrust into the spotlight last month after Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova announced she had tested positive for the substance at the Australian Open in January.

Meldonium -- an endurance-boosting drug that is used to treat heart trouble -- was added to the list of banned substances on January 1, 2016.

Since then, a string of high-profile Russian athletes, including Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova, speedskaters Semyon Yelistratov and Pavel Kulizhnikov have all admitted to testing positive for the drug.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has said some 30 athletes in the country had tested positive for meldonium since it was banned.

Russia's scandal-ridden athletics federation -- suspended in November after a WADA independent commission found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field -- last month announced four meldonium cases among its athletes.

Moscow has vowed to reform its anti-doping programme in time for its track and field stars to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.