22nd March 2016

Yuliya Efimova set to challenge suspension

Russian swimmer Yuliya Efimova is set to challenge her provisional suspension after testing positive for meldonium, arguing that the drug was not prohibited the last time she took it. “Currently, we are preparing for hearings of my case”, the four-times world champion said in a video address to fans, reported Chinese news agency Xinhua. “We intend to prove that I have not violated the anti-doping rules […] It was legal the last time I used meldonium for medical reasons.”

Meldonium can take months to leave the body, the manufacturer of the drug has told news agency Reuters. As reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative yesterday, it appears that many athletes were advised that they would not return a positive test if they stopped taking the drug weeks before the 2016 Prohibited List was introduced. This could lead to sanctions being levied against athletes who stopped taking the drug before it became prohibited on 1 January 2016. Click here for a list of athletes who have been provisionally suspended for meldonium.

Russian sprinter Nadezhda Kotlyarova is understood to be pursuing the same argument as Efimova. She told Russian news agency R-Sport that she had stopped taking the drug “long before it was banned”.

Efimova has been based in the US since 2011. Yesterday, the Russian swimming federation argued that a foreign training campaign may have been to blame for her positive test. ‘In order to obtain information with an explanation for this situation, the President of the [Russian swimming federation], Vladimir Salnikov, will meet soon with leaders of the “Centre of sports preparation for the national teams of Russia” and the Russian Ministry of Sports’, read a statement. ‘In September 2015, according to the approved individual plans, a number of swimmers were sent for training abroad. Ensuring full preparation of this group of swimmers had been taken, the “Centre of sports preparation for the national teams of Russia” appointed Sergey Ilyin curator of the group’.

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