Frustrated Observer wrote:
100's of runners who have been intentionally doping for years were notified months before the drug would trigger a positive test now get off the hook? What about the athletes that have lost prize money, team births, and contracts to these cheaters? This is exactly what's wrong with our sport. People intentionally dope with a drug off the radar and their given no penalty. They should have been banned before the drug was even put on the list because they were only taking it for a performance advantage.
What is wrong with WADA. They should have been able to ban these athletes before 2016 with the fact that the athletes, coaches, and doctors were all breaking the ethics of sport by taking it in.
The issue is less the culpability of the meldonium users, but the process through which WADA made their decision.
The other thread discussed at lengths whether there were actual performance enhancements from the drug. There was no performance data, no bod of evidence from studies on actual performance. There was a conceivable benefit from the mechanism, but theoretically possible isn't the same as actual.
WADA banned this drug because it saw that athletes' intentions were performance enhancement. Not on performance data, or as far as I can tell, a real discussion of its mechanism. They have said as much in their press releases related to the Banned List change, and reactions to positive cases.
While I agree whole heartily with this decision, it does not follow their own principles, banning drugs for at least two of these three reasons: harm, performance enhancement, or violations of the spirit of the sport. But even more than those listed principles, they also didn't bring the scientific rigor that they espouse in their philosophy.
The main paper on which WADA made their decision made one mention (IIRC) of how long it stays in the system. Something like a sentence about "a few days". But WADA didn't do a study on how chronic use, dosage, age, gender or any other factor could affect clearance. No one knows for sure if Sharapova, who took it for 11 years, could have stopped on Dec 31, and still tested positive several weeks later.
Even with this major oversight, I'm still with WADA's action. They've taken decisive action before complete evidence was in in the past, with huge success. EPO was banned before an FDA-drug-trial level of evidence was collected, even before there was a test for it. Good. The sport needed decisive action, not delay. Similar situation for Xenon/Argon bans. Not really enough evidence to say for sure that it is harmful, but enough evidence to fit the urgency at hand.
This decision for amnesty is right only because WADA didn't follow through. If they had done the research to show clearance times, even after they decided to ban it, they wouldn't have to give amnesty. If they had anything relevant to back up their "a few days" claim, they wouldn't have to give amnesty. It may be a black eye for WADA, but they don't have to answer to anybody. Black eyes don't matter to them. It sucks for the clean athletes, but remedies the situation for those (few, I'm guessing) athletes who genuinely did stop dosing after January but were still glowing.
Best solution to a bad situation.