The English news source The Times published an article late yesterday accusing the alleged systemic doping within Russian track and field of having also infiltrated the sport of swimming.
According to The Times, Russia has undertaken systematic doping in swimming for years, spotlighted by Russian 100m breaststroke World Champion Yulia Efimova having tested positively for meldonium just recently, the 2nd positive test of a banned substance in her career.
Dr. Sergei Portugalov, the Chief of Russian Athletics Federation’s Medical Commission was the primary individual named in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report on systemic doping within Russia’s athletics organization released several months ago. Portugalov allegedly provided banned substances to Russian athletes and was also involved in providing prohibited substances to those in swimming, per The Times.
Russia has had the worst doping record in aquatic sport within the past 10 years, accumulating 40 positive tests. However, The Times sparks fear that still some cases have never even been brought to public forum, as a source conveyed that at least two swimmers had tested positively for erythropoietin (EPO), but were never punished.
The Times reports that the 2 swimmers were identified in the Russian media in 2009 for having failed a test, but the cases never made it to the official files of FINA. The report further details that the swimmers in question were asked to reveal who supplied the banned substance, to which they named a doctor known for having strong connections to local police authorities.
“That is where the story ended,” the source told The Times.
The Russian runner who helped bring the alleged systemic doping within athletics to light, Yuliya Stepanova, said that ‘when visiting Portugalov she had seen “people from swimming — coaches and athletes”. Another source within Russian swimming said ‘freelance doping doctors’ such as Portugalov, “were coming to us, proposing ‘to help’. (The Australian)
“Calls for Russian swimmers to be excluded from the Games will grow after the investigation revealed that Portugalov, the doctor recommended for a lifetime ban by WADA as a key player at the heart of Russia’s doping scandal, actively encouraged the national swimming team to adopt a systematic doping policy,” the newspaper said.
Reuters reports that the Russian Swimming Federation has rejected the media’s allegations that it was covering up positive tests for doping among its athletes.