An angina drug called trimetazidine has been in the news lately connected to the doping case of Kamila Valieva at the 2022 Winter Olympics, but it's been on the radar of anti-doping authorities for years.
The 15-year-old Russian phenom was cleared to compete in the women’s singles event after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that she does not need to be provisionally suspended ahead of a full investigation into a failed drug test from before the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine on Dec. 25 at Russian nationals; the test result came to light after she helped the ROC earn gold in the figure skating team event.
The drug, sometimes called TMZ, was added to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list in 2014. Normally prescribed to treat angina -- chest pain from reduced blood flow to the heart -- it also has athletic benefits as well. For sports, it could potentially help an athlete perform at a higher heart rate for a longer period of time.
WADA lists it as a "metabolic modulator" and prohibits it at all times, in and out of competition.
"According to knowledge of the pharmacology and mechanism of TMZ action, TMZ can be used by athletes to improve physical efficiency, especially in the case of endurance sports," scientists wrote in a 2014 paper on abuse of the drug by Polish athletes.
Grigory Rodchenkov and the ROC
The scandal is reviving memories of the systematic Russian doping that was exposed after the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
The penalties from that episode are the reason Russian athletes are in Beijing under the banner of the ROC, or the Russian Olympic Committee. Russian athletes competed last summer in Tokyo under the ROC flag as well.
Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Russian national drug testing laboratory, became a whistleblower after the 2014 Olympics and admitted switching urine samples for athletes who were part of a doping program.
He is the namesake of the Rodchenkov Act, a new U.S. law that makes doping in international competitions involving U.S. athletes illegal.