Max Holt, who was named to the U.S. Olympic volleyball team on June 21, tested positive for meldonium via a June 10 sample, but can compete in the Rio Games because he took meldonium in December, before it became illegal Jan. 1.
Holt and other members of his Russian club team, Dynamo Moscow, received medication in December and were assured by a team doctor, who did not give a medical justification, that it was legal, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
“It was not until weeks later that Holt and his teammates realized they had been given meldonium,” according to USADA. “After a thorough review of the case, USADA concluded that the extremely low meldonium concentration in the athlete’s urine sample, combined with the athlete’s explanation of use, was consistent with ingestion prior to the substance being officially prohibited on January 1.”
That meldonium remained in Holt’s system for six months is no surprise, given a World Anti-Doping Agency update in April.
That Holt received medication from a doctor while with a Russian team is also no surprise, given meldonium was the source of dozens of failed drug tests earlier this year, mostly by Russian athletes. Most notably, Maria Sharapova, who took meldonium well before and then after Jan. 1 and is appealing a ban to Jan. 25, 2018.
“The fair determination was made that Holt’s use of meldonium came prior to its inclusion on the WADA Prohibited List,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a press release. “This case serves as a reminder to all athletes that they must be diligent from a health and clean sport standpoint about exactly what they are using, and not simply ingest an unknown substance from just any coach or doctor.”Follow @nzaccardi