23rd May 2016

FINA lifts Efimova’s provisional suspension

The Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) lifted its provisional suspension of Yulia Efimova on 20 May, after she tested positive for meldonium in March. ‘This news follows a new recommendation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on this case’, read a FINA statement. ‘WADA is to undertake further scientific research on Meldonium and have therefore recommended to FINA that the suspension of the swimmer should be lifted’.

On 16 April, FINA decided to maintain the provisional suspension of Efimova, despite WADA issuing a Guidance Notice on 11 April explaining how anti-doping organisations (ADOs) should handle meldonium positives. That meant that Efimova missed Russia’s Olympic swimming trials, which began on 17 April.

‘In mid-April, based on the scientific evidence made available by WADA at that time, FINA’s decision had been to maintain the suspension’, FINA’s statement attempted to explain. ‘This was mainly due to the sequence of testing results of Ms Efimova’.

Efimova’s case highlights the potential issues that could face ADOs regarding meldonium positives. FINA would have been in possession of the Guidance Notice on 11 April, when it was sent to WADA stakeholders and before it decided to maintain her provisional suspension. As such, Efimova (pictured) could have missed out on qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Fortunately for FINA, Russian swimming federation (BON) rules allow times set earlier in the year to be taken into consideration.

FINA also clarified that although Efimova’s provisional suspension has been lifted, she has not been cleared. ‘Following the outcome of WADA’s scientific studies and subsequent indication on this matter, the FINA Doping Panel will take a decision’, continued the statement. ‘After that, Ms Efimova would be entitled to file an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). FINA would like to underline that the decisions taken on this case have strictly followed the FINA Doping Control Rules as well as specific recommendations from WADA concerning the prohibited substance Meldonium.’

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