The dosage instructions for meldonium could completely obliterate Maria Sharapova's defence in doping case

Maria Sharapova admitted to taking a banned substance at a press conference yesterday

The dosage instructions for meldonium could completely obliterate Maria Sharapova's defence in doping case

Damian Dovarganes / AP/Press Association Images

Meldonium is intended to be taken over a four to six week stretch, not for the 10 years which tennis pro Maria Sharapova said she was taking it for.

The sporting world was left rattled yesterday when five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova confessed to failing a doping test at the Australia Open this year, a tournament which she was eliminated from at the quarter-final stage.

During a hotly anticipated press conference, Sharapova said that she had been taking meldonium for a decade for medicinal purposes including heart related issues and early signs of diabetes. She also said that the drug was added to the WADA banned list at the beginning of this year, meaning that she was legally consuming the drug for most of the previous 10 years.

She was informed of the WADA's update via email, which Sharapova says she did not read at the time.

But today, Latvian based manufacturers of meldonium revealed that four to six weeks is the normal length of time a patient will be put on a prescription for meldonium.

''Depending on the patient’s health condition, treatment course of meldonium preparations may vary from four to six weeks. Treatment courses can be repeated twice or thrice a year.'' 

''Only physicians can follow and evaluate patient’s health condition and state whether the patient should use meldonium for a longer period of time.''

With regards the impact of the drug on an athlete's performance, the manufacturers said they do not believe that meldonium would enhance their abilities, rather that it merely improves their overall health capacity.

''It would be reasonable to recommend them to use meldonium as a cell protector to avoid heart failure or muscle damage in case of unwanted overload.''

Conversely however, a German anti-doping expert who helped develop the test for medonium, has said that the drug has the 'potential' to bring about unnatural improvements in athletic performance levels.

''There is a potential of the substance to enhance performance and it has been described as a means to facilitate recovery and to enhance physical as well as mental workload capabilities.''