On Monday, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) announced the suspension of Russian swimmer Kristina Vershinina. Vershinina faces a six-month ban starting back on December 3, 2018, handed out by the All-Russia Swimming Federation. Her suspension is already expired, and she returned to racing last weekend at the Russian National Swimming Cup in Obninsk, where she won the 200 IM (2:18.98) and 400 IM (4:52.67).
The 26-year old has raced internationally for Russia, including at the 2017 World University Games (Summer Universiade) where she finished 9th in the semi-finals of the women’s 200 IM. In 2018, she had a high finish of 6th place in that same event at the Russian Championships.
Her lifetime best in the 200 back is 2:11.68, in the 200 IM is 2:14.90, and in the 400 IM is 4:46.83 in long course. All of her lifetime bests in long course date to 2017-or-earlier.
RUSADA did not say what substance she tested positive for, but the 6 month suspension implies that the All-Russia Swimming Federation doping panel decided that she had a reduced liability for the positive test, and that a source of accidental ingestion was presented.
Vershinina is one of five Russian athletes that were suspended by RUSADA on Monday. The other four athletes are cross-country skier Andrey Hischakov, cyclist Ekaterina Golovastova, ice hockey player Alexander Titov, and rugby player Dmitriy Gritsenko.
The various suspensions issued last Monday come after two anti-doping incidents.
On July 2nd, it was announced that the first round of the Moscow lab review found 300 potential new doping violations. According to that report, out of the 298 athletes identified at the time, only the data belonging to 43 of them had been sent to their respective International Federations (IFs). At the time, no specific names were released, nor even sports of the identified athletes. Additionally, WADA I&I began a “targeted re-analysis program” of samples retrieved from the Moscow lab.
Then, just a few days ago, WADA issued a statement on Operation Viribus. Throughout the operation, 3.8 million doping substances and medicines were seized worldwide, according to a press release issued by Europol, the European Police. The operation, which was led by Europol in coalition with the Italian NAS Carabinieri and the Financial Unit of the Hellenic Police, is the largest intervention of this kind all time. Italian and Greek police were supported by thirty-three countries, INTERPOL (International Police), the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The operation was focused primarily on battling commerce of a wide range of illegal and dangerous substances, besides the smuggling of illicit athletic supplements and the illegal trade of doping substances.
According to Europol, Operation Viribus also focused on doping checks performed during athletic events. A total of 1,357 checks, which include both blood and urine tests, have been performed in some of the countries involved in this operation.
As a result of the 2016 investigation, many Russian athletes were banned from competing at the Rio Olympic Games. At the time, the investigation, which resulted in the colloquially-named “McLaren report,” after Richard McLaren, who wrote it, involved swimmers Yuliya Efimova and Vladimir Morozov, who were later cleared to compete in Rio.
That was not the case in the Paralympics. Russia was banned from taking part at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, as the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) considered the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) non-compliant with the established policies.
As the 2020 Games approach, those involved in Operation Viribus or any other doping-related violation could face a ban from competing at the international stage in light of the Olympic year.