USC and Trojan Swim Club coach Dave Salo had some words of support after Russian breaststroker Yulia Efimova tested positive for meldonium and could now face a lifetime ban as a result of her test failure. Efimova, one of the world’s top breaststrokers, trains with Salo at USC.
NBC Sports reports that Salo has told the media about Efimova’s desire to try to fight the impending consequences. As for himself, the USC coach claims that he has never encouraged or even suggested the use of performance-enhancing drugs for any of his swimmers.
According to Salo, once the 23-year-old Efimova learned about meldonium’s new status as a banned substance back in December, she stopped taking it.
“Yulia stopped taking it [meldonium] in December when it became evident it was going to be on the banned list,” said Salo. “She sent me a text almost immediately yesterday and tried to assure me that she hadn’t done anything since December.”
Meldonium was named a prohibited substance on WADA’s list last year, but the ban officially went into effect on January 1, 2016.
Salo also says that he has never given his swimmers any sort of performance-enhancing drugs.
“It’s not coming from me, it never has come from me,” Salo said. “I don’t think kids need supplementation of any sort. I’ve never counseled kids to take anything. They know my stance on it.”
This isn’t the first time Efimova has seen trouble with doping– in 2013, she tested positive for the steroid DHEA and as a result was stripped of 2 world records and 5 international medals from earlier competition. According to NBC Sports, Salo plans to meet with Efimova upon his return to USC after the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Champs in Atlanta.
“Her text was, ‘Please believe me. I didn’t do this on purpose,’” he said. “I believe her. She’s culpable to the extent that she has a lot of other people in her ear.”
Efimova, who trains in Southern California with Salo, has put down the fastest 100 meter breast time this season. She now faces a penalty that could be as severe as a lifetime ban from the sport.