Russia's first track-and-field athlete has tested positive for meldonium since the substance was banned, heaping further pressure on the country's athletics federation as it fights to have a doping ban repealed in time for the 2016 Olympic Games.
 
Twelve Russian sportsmen and women have tested positive for meldonium since it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Jan. 1, including world tennis star Maria Sharapova and speed skating Olympic gold-medallist Semion Elistratov.
 
Despite warnings from sports officials that a number of other Russian competitors could have taken the substance, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Reuters last week meldonium had nothing to do with athletics in his country.
 
But 26-year-old sprinter and 2013 European Championship sliver-medallist Nadezhda Kotlyarova has now tested positive for the substance, the state-owned TASS news agency reported her trainer as saying on Sunday.
 
"Nadezhda took this substance on her doctors' recommendation for at least half a year but then stopped using it," TASS quoted trainer Sergei Vorobyev as saying.
 
"No one told us how long this drug remains in the body. It is a strange situation."
 
Kotlyarova's positive test will undermine efforts by the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) to prove it is compliant with anti-doping standards after being suspended from international competition last year following revelations of wide-spread cheating and corruption.
 
As things stand, Russian athletes will be barred from competing at this summer's Olympics, a humiliating blow to the reputation of a sports superpower where success is seen as integral to national pride.
 
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has said Russia has "significant work to do" before it is reinstated and a final decision will be taken in May.