BUCHAREST, Romania – Romanian runner Elena Mirela Lavric tested positive for meldonium at last month's world indoor championships, the Romanian Athletics Federation said Tuesday.
It is the first failed drug test from the world indoors and comes at a time when track and field's governing body is under pressure over its management of doping issues.
Romanian federation chairman Ion Sandu told the online publication ProSport that Lavric failed the doping test at the championships in Portland.
He said Lavric had stopped taking meldonium, which boosts stamina, in December, before it was banned, but that the federation only found out on March 7 that it was no longer legal. That was the same day that Maria Sharapova revealed she had failed a doping test for meldonium.
"I don't know how long this medicine stays in the organism. I consider there is a lack of communication between medics and athletes," Sandu told ProSport.
Lavric could be banned for up to four years, while Romania could lose its bronze medal in the 4x400-meter relay, for which Lavric ran the second leg in the final.
Lavric is a former European and world indoor champion in the 800 and also competed at the 2012 Olympics, reaching the semifinals.
There have been more than 120 failed tests worldwide in various sports since meldonium was banned. The Latvian-made drug, which is typically prescribed for elderly patients with heart disease, was widely used as a supplement by athletes in Eastern European countries.
The World Anti-Doping Agency said in September that meldonium would be illegal from Jan. 1. Some athletes who have tested positive have claimed the substance remained in their systems for as much as five months after they stopped taking it.
Lavric's failed test is the first from the 2016 world indoors, though another runner, Nataliya Lupu of Ukraine, withdrew before the championships after testing positive for meldonium. Abeba Aregawi of Sweden, the former world champion in the 1,500, has also been provisionally suspended after testing positive.