Russian breaststroke star Yuliya Efimova, who tested positive for meldonium back in March, has demanded that the laboratory in Salt Lake City be fully investigated after they reported a negative test that was later found to be positive.
Efimova was tested five times between February 15th and March 5th, with four of the five tests coming back positive. The test on February 15th (analyzed in Montreal), and the tests on February 24th, March 3rd, and March 5th (all analyzed in Los Angeles) all came back positive. The other test, taken on March 2nd and analyzed in Salt Lake City, surprisingly came back negative.
Efimova was then handed a temporary suspension and asked for additional information about the Salt Lake City laboratory after their unexpected negative test. Salt Lake City Laboratory Director Dr. Daniel Eichner responded to Efimova confirming that the laboratory ” was indeed carried out screening tests on meldonium 1,582,651. We conducted the necessary positive and negative test provided in this case. The sample is negative on meldonium “.
The response from Eichner came on April 2nd, and then on the 15th FINA responded after Efimova requested her suspension be lifted (roughly translated from Russian):
“- One of the samples (taken March 2, 2016 and analyzed in the laboratory in Salt Lake City) it was negative and did not contain banned substances after 1 March 2016; – was not given any explanation. Why sample taken March 2, 2016, was negative, but other samples taken before and after March 02 were positive; – in accordance with Rule 3.2.1 the FINA, WADA-accredited laboratory shall analyze samples and all relevant procedures in accordance with the International standard for laboratories and such laboratories are reliable and appropriate means to establish a violation of anti-doping rules; – the fact that the negative doping tests turned out to be among the four positive results, at first glance, indicates the use of a banned substance after January 1, 2016 year; – to clarify WADA light, positive test results after negative tests may indicate that the reception was a banned substance after 1 January 2016 “.
Thus, the main reason FINA refused to remove the suspension was the presence of the negative doping test amongst the four positive tests. This indicates the use of a banned substance after January 1st, 2016, as a negative test among positive test indicates that the athlete must still be taking the drug at the time of the test.
On May 20th FINA unexpectedly lifted Efimova’s suspension after hearing that WADA had requested a re-analysis of samples from the Salt Lake City lab. On June 3rd WADA accredited the negative test that came out of the Salt Lake lab positive: “revised result of negative doping test and reported that” A “is your sample contains meldonium”.
So the test that was originally reported negative, coming out of Salt Lake City, was re-analyzed and found to be positive.
If the test taken on March 2nd hadn’t been originally reported negative the situation would have unfolded very differently. Efimova’s suspension would have been removed on April 15th, thus allowing her to compete at the Russian Olympic Trials beginning on April 16th.
Efimova, obviously frustrated with the Salt Lake City lab that reversed their mistake said: “The laboratory in Salt Lake City somehow “correct” result, but it does not help me to turn back time and take part in the Russian Swimming Championships, which started on April 16, 2016 and qualify for the Olympic Games without performing any additional conditions. “
It has become clear that the Salt Lake City lab did not act in accordance with the International Standard for Laboratories and was unable to provide valid and reliable results of the sample analysis.
Efimova continued: “Such negligence committed by the laboratory in Salt Lake City, not only violated the provisions of ISL 2015, but caused irreparable harm to me, because of a false negative result of the laboratory, my temporary suspension was not lifted in time and I lost the chance to qualify for the Olympic games at the national championship. This means that it is not just a “false-negative”, it should be seen as a “false-positive” when assessing the compliance of the laboratory in Salt Lake City Status ISL 2015 “.
Efimova formally requested for WADA and the IOC to:
- immediately suspend the activities of the laboratory in Salt Lake City, in accordance with the provisions of the ISL 2015 ISL June 2016;
- declare immediately a full-scale investigation into the activities of the laboratory in Salt Lake City for the last time, including, double-check the negative and the positive results of doping tests, and to appoint a truly independent commission, giving it broad powers to determine the level of misconduct laboratory;
- to publish publicly the findings of the independent commission on completion of the investigation, as a result of this investigation should be considered as a priority in the fight for the purity of the sport, providing all the necessary evidence. “
Efimova then sums up her view of the situation:
“It is obvious that after my story with false-negative sample surfaced, one can not trust any results obtained by the laboratory staff in Salt Lake City, at least, the results of related meldonium. The only way to restore this trust – a public inquiry of the laboratory in Salt Lake City, which can be carried out both by law enforcement and disciplinary bodies, revealing and putting forward the charges of a crime or violation of professional rules, committed in connection with the lack of professionalism and negligence of employees in the laboratory, which are actually jeopardized my performance in Rio 2016.
I would be grateful for the prompt response. “
Efimova was recently included on Russia’s Olympic roster, as her status for Rio remains up in the air.
Read the original report (in Russian) here.