Dublin – A husband and wife who play sevens rugby for Russia have been provisionally suspended after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium, global governing body World Rugby announced on Saturday.
Alexey Mikhaltsov and Alena Mikhaltsov tested positive for the substance in out-of-competition tests in February.
Meldonium is the drug that Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova tested positive for during the Australian Open, which has left her facing a ban from the sport.
“World Rugby has confirmed that it has provisionally suspended two Russia national sevens players from all competition following notification of potential anti-doping rule violations, both involving the prohibited substance meldonium (mildronate),” World Rugby said in a statement.
“Alexey Mikhaltsov, a member of the national men’s sevens squad, returned an adverse analytical finding following an out-of-competition test conducted by World Rugby and was suspended on February 4, 2016.
“Alena Mikhaltsov (nee Bogacheva), a member of the national women’s squad, returned an adverse analytical finding following an out of competition test conducted by World Rugby and was provisionally suspended on February 26, 2016.”
Meldonium, which is intended to be used in the treatment of ischaemia, or poor blood flow, but which can improve endurance, was added to the World Anti-doping Agency’s (WADA) list of banned substances on January 1.
WADA said on Friday that 99 athletes have tested positive for it since it was added to the list.