By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Friday they have recorded 99 positive tests for the recently-banned drug at the center of the case involving five-times grand slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova.
WADA did not name the athletes who tested positive for meldonium, which has been have linked to increased athletic performance, but said they came from different sports and were reported by many national anti-doping organizations.
"We can confirm that since 1 January 2016 when the substance Meldonium became banned, there have been 99 adverse analytical findings for Meldonium recorded," WADA spokesman Ben Nichols said in an email to Reuters.
"These cases were analyzed by a number of different WADA-accredited laboratories and reported by many different NADOs and international sport federations."
Meldonium, which is manufactured for people with heart problems, was added to WADA's list of banned substances on Jan. 1 and can improve exercise capacity.
Russian Sharapova stunned the sport world earlier this week when she said she tested positive at January's Australian Open for meldonium, a substance she admitted to taking since 2006. [ID:nL1N16F1IE]
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both)