While provisionally banned Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova awaits her fate for having tested positively for the prohibited drug meldonium, the reigning 100m breaststroke World Champion’s former coach is continuing speaking out on her behalf.
In light of concentration information released concerning Efimova’s specific levels of meldonium, the swimming star’s former coach Irina Vyatchanina, who now carries World Junior Champion Viktoria Gunes (Turkey) under her tutelage, says that Efimova’s chances of being able to compete at the Rio Olympic Games are being ‘unfairly affected by FINA’.
After banning the drug meldonium, effective January of this year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a revision of sorts, clarifying that positive findings resulting in levels below one microgram of the heart medication detected in a test prior to March 1st, a no fault or negligence verdict could be reached.
Although nothing official has been released publicly that we can find, Vyatchanina told Russian news agency TASS that, “It is an established fact that the concentration of the substance discovered in Efimova’s doping sample was not exceeding the norm.”
As such, the coach questions why Efimova’s request to FINA for her temporary suspension to be lifted was not granted. Says Vyatchanina, “It is not clear why the temporary suspension was not lifted or at least she was permitted to practice before the session of the FINA Doping Panel on May 30.”
“Yulia at the moment is even unable to practice normally. She had to return to Russia, to Volgodonsk. This is definitely a negative moment for the swimmer considering the fact that there is little time left before the Summer Olympic Games.”
In March, Vyatchanina lashed out at the media regarding her former swimmer’s specific situation, saying, “only doctors can be blamed for the situation with Yulia. They [doctors] were aware of the problem since last September. They should have done everything possible to get the drug out of the swimmer’s body system.”
However, Efimova is facing her second doping ordeal, as the swimmer previously served a 16-month ban from having tested positively back in 2013 for the steroid DHEA.
In other headline-making cases involving meldonium, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova’s concentration level of the drug was found to exceed the permissible 1 mcg level. Conversely, the temporary suspension of Russian water polo player Alexey Bugaychuk was recently lifted due to his case meeting the minimum ‘no-fault’ criteria.