European Light heavyweight champion Igor Mikhalkin has tested positive for Meldonium following his successful title defense against Patrick Bois in Paris.
The cardiovascular drug, that was also related to tennis star Maria Sharapova, is freely available in Russia at any pharmacy – and not even a prescription. Since the start of the year, the drug has been on the WADA list of prohibited substances.
“It is true that I have recently taken Meldonium,” Mikhalkin admits. “Until a few months ago that was allowed, and absolutely consistently in Russia. I did not realize that it is now forbidden. I had stopped it anywa, but apparently it takes a long time until it is completely degraded from the body.”
The 30-year-old is not looking for excuses but will accept his punishment. “Ignorance is no defense,” said Mikhalkin.
“I have made a mistake, and I’m very sorry. I stand for a clean sport and will never again take any medication without checking several times before that everything is in order. I hope that my punishment is not too severe.”
Mikhalkin’s promoter Erol Ceylan is hopeful of clemency. “We must not play down doping, but must fight it strictly,” said the head of EC boxing. “But whoever knows Igor, knows that he is a fair sportsman and did not want to cheat. If you evaluate this case, one should also consider that Meldonium was allowed until the end of 2015 and was legal. Nevertheless, it is of course an offense and it must be punished like that. Igor has admitted his mistake and will face the consequences.”
The statement released in this case shows that there is no attempt to cover up or delay anything. It is also the wish of ECB and Mikhalkin that the B sample is to be checked.
The European Boxing Union (EBU) will have to decide in consultation with the French Association and the Association of German professional boxer (BDB) on how to proceed with Mikhalkin.
He was due to defend his European title on May 27 in Paris against Mehdi Amar.