In the ongoing case surrounding Russian World Champion breaststroker Yulia Efimova‘s positive test for meldonium, FINA has issued a response denying the swimmer’s plea for her temporary suspension to be lifted.
As we reported earlier this week, Efimova’s agent, Andrei Mitkov, stated that Efimova had sent a letter to FINA asking for her current temporary suspension to be removed so that she may compete at Russia’s Olympic Trials in Moscow, which begin on April 16th.
This request was submitted after WADA issued a softer position on meldonium-positive athletes, saying that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete. Cases where the concentration is below 1 mcg and the test was taken before 1 March 2016 are compatible with an intake prior to January 2016.”
As to Efimova’s specific concentration, the Russian Swimming Federation is waiting on data from FINA. Russian Swimming Federation head, Vladimir Salnikov, said. “As of now, we have no official information provided to us in a written form. As soon as we receive official documents from FINA we will certainly make a statement on the issue.”
In FINA’s statement, it reads that the “FINA Doping Panel decided to maintain the provisional suspension of this athlete [Yulia Efimova] until a hearing of Ms. Efimova is held by the FINA Doping Panel.”
However, the Russian Swimming Federation just announced that it has made an exception for filling the second qualifying spot on its Olympic roster, allowing athletes to qualify at a meet other than the Russian Olympic Trials. With Efimova’s suspension being upheld, this revision may enable her to represent Russia in Rio, should she be allowed. You can read more about that announcement here.
With the recent rule change, Efimova could still make the Olympic team if: 1) the Doping Panel overturns her suspension, and 2) her best time from January 1st to April 1st of this year is faster than the 2nd place finisher at the Russian Trials this week.
Efimova currently has the fastest time in the world in the 100 breast at 1:05.70, from the Orland Pro Series swim in March.
The 2:21.41 she swam in the 200 breast at the same meet currently ranks 2nd in the world.
No other Russian woman currently ranks in the top 25 in either event, so it would very surprising if anyone is able to surpass her times at Trials this week, meaning that should Efimova be reinstated by FINA, she would be able to swim in Rio.
The entire statement from FINA can be seen below.
Considering the provisional suspension imposed by FINA to swimmer Yulia Efimova (RUS) and the recent WADA recommendations on the use of Meldonium, the FINA Doping Panel decided to maintain the provisional suspension of this athlete, until a hearing of Ms Efimova is held by the FINA Doping Panel.
FINA will not make any further comments on this case, until a final decision is made by the FINA Doping Panel.