Lithuanian Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte is facing a possible 2-year suspension for missing doping tests, per her nation’s swimming federation.
Meilutyte reportedly missed 3 drug tests over a 1-year span, which violates the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) testing protocol. According to Article 2.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code, the athlete’s three missed tests and (or) a combination of the lack of notification of cases, as defined in the international standard for testing and research, during the twelve-month period is considered anti-doping rule violation.
In accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code and the Lithuanian Anti-Doping Rules, athletes must provide accurate information about their whereabouts and comply with their location requirements. Such information must be provided in the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS).
Per the posting on the federation’s website, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist missed tests on April 22, 2018, August 29, 2018 and March 28, 2019.
Although the actual punishment is still yet to be announced, facing a 2-year ban, or even a 1-year ban, would relegate the now 22-year-old to the sidelines come the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
We have seen other recent cases of missed doping tests, to the tune of Aussie swimmers Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Maddie Groves and Jarrod Poort. Of the 3, TFH received a 12-month suspension, as did Poort, while Groves was cleared with no punishment.
Says Kristina Jagminiene, Director of the Anti-Doping Agency of the Republic of Lithuania, “Our practice shows that, unfortunately, very often athletes refuse and irresponsibly fill their data, thinking that it doesn’t matter. Negligence and irresponsibility can lead to changes in the athlete’s career that can be financially and morally responsive. We doubt that people will go deeper about why an athlete is disqualified. Violation of anti-doping sanctions will remain the whole career future. The case of each athlete is different, so the verdict draws attention to mitigating and aggravating circumstances. The most severe sanction is disqualification for up to two years. Anti-doping rules are strict and must be followed by everyone.”
Meilutyte has made several coaching changes since her gold medal-winning run in London. After her long-time coach at Plymouth Leander in Great Britain, Jon Rudd, moved on to take Irish Swimming’s performance director role, Meilutyte moved back to Lithuania to train under the guidance of Paulius Andrijauskas, a former Olympic butterfly swimmer and the vice-president of Lithuanian Swimming Federation.
That move didn’t last long, however, as the 20-year-old traveled to Australia to take up some temporary training and competition before trying out Team Elite in San Diego for a stint earlier this year.
In April of last year, Meilutyte told Brazilian site Globo Esporte that she has suffered from depression since 2016.
Updated since original publishing: Coach Dave Salo tells SwimSwam, “Missing a test is the athlete’s responsibility, but no one from WADA or USADA have come to our deck in the past six months that I am aware looking to test.” Additionally, Meilutyte is “not currently training with Salo nor Trojan Swim Club.”