While there is sure to be a long line of appeals and clarifications necessary in interpreting the directive laid out from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as to which athletes are and are not allowed to compete for Russia at the 2016 Olympic Games, one specific class of athletes have been specifically barred from competition:
3. The ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction.
We have sought clarification as to what the IOC will be considering “no fault” findings in meldonium cases, as is the case with Grigory Tarasevich, which could come down to the semantics both of the IOC ruling and the doping decision. There is no doubt about one athlete and a gold medal contender in swimming, however: Yulia Efimova.
Efimova tested positive for the newly-banned meldonium in March, but that was actually her second positive test. The first, in 2013, was for the banned substance 7-keto-DHEA, and included a 16 month suspension and the stripping of international medals.
After returning, Efimova won a World Championship gold medal in the 100 breaststroke and a bronze medal in the 50 breaststroke in Kazan, Russia last year.
Efimova was temporarily suspended for the meldonium test during the Russian Olympic Trials, but they altered qualification rules to allow her to qualify for the team anyway pending FINA’s decision, which was ultimately to waive any sanction for the meldonium use.
We identified two other swimmers on Russia’s Olympic Team, Daria K Ustinova, who has previously been sanctioned with a warning – when she was 14; and Natalya Lovtcova, who in 2012 was suspended for two-and-a-half years, later reduced to two years.
A recent FINA decision to remove public records of athletes’ doping sanctions after they served their sanctions has increased the challenge of identifying others who have tested positively.
One potential appeal will be on the basis of the international Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) decision to strike down the “Osaka Rule,” where the IOC attempted to go outside of the sanctions allowed in the World Anti-Doping Code to add a one-Olympic suspension to all athletes who were previously sanctioned for 6 months or longer.