Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova says she shouldn’t be punished a second time for a doping ban she served five years ago, and that Olympic bans should be applied equally to non-Russian athletes with prior doping violations.
Efimova spoke to Russia’s state-sponsored news outlet RT in the wake of WADA’s decision to consider Russia non-compliant for a four-year period. The ruling by WADA will keep Russia as a nation out of major international competitions for the next four years. However, individual Russian athletes will be able to compete, if they can demonstrate they aren’t implicated in the ongoing scandal over a state-run doping program within Russia.
Specifically, WADA says that athletes must show “that they are not mentioned in incriminating circumstances in the McLaren reports, there are no positive findings reported for them in the database and no data relating to their samples has been manipulated.”
Efimova was never reported among those named in the McLaren report. However, she did test positive for DHEA in 2013 and served a two-year ban. She also tested positive for meldonium in 2016, but wasn’t suspended because meldonium was legal through December 2015, and could conceivably have remained in her system through her positive tests in 2016.
It’s not clear in the wording of WADA’s release whether a “positive finding… in the database” refers to any positive test in the past, or merely a positive test in the specific Moscow anti-doping lab database where WADA says data was manipulated. However, if her 2013 positive test is grounds for an Olympic ban under WADA’s policy, the two-time Olympic silver medalist Efimova says she will fight that in court.
“There is a rule that a person can’t be punished twice for the same offence,” Efimova told RT. “If you violate a driving code or instigated a brawl, you will not be punished twice for that.” Efimova says she’s already hired a lawyer to make that case if there is an attempt to ban her from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Efimova also said that if 2020 Olympic bans are being handed out for past violations, the same rules should apply to athletes from every nation, not just Russia:
“If you introduce those rules, they must be applied to all athletes,” Efimova said. “Yes, long ago I made a doping violation and I was disqualified for almost two years. But there are a great number of US and European athletes who have a similar situation regarding doping and they are competing without any restrictions. If you want to introduce those regulations, they must be equally applied to all athletes, not only Russian competitors.”