In a statement issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) earlier today, a lift on existing suspensions could possibly be in the future of some athletes who have tested positive for the substance meldonium so far in 2016. This could include reigning 100m breaststroke World Champion, Russian Yulia Efimova.
According to WADA, the particular circumstances where the concentration of meldonium in a positive test is found to be below 1mcg and the test was taken prior to March 1, 2016, the case may be deemed ‘compatible with intake prior to January 2016’, and would render no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete.
The agency concedes that “limited data exists to date” on the urinary excretion of the drug. “For this reason, a hearing panel might justifiably find (unless there is specific evidence to the contrary) that an athlete who has established on the balance of probabilities that he or she ingested meldonium before 1 January 2016 could not reasonably have known or suspected that the meldonium would still be present in his or her body on or after 1 January 2016,” said WADA.
And how does this impact Yulia Efimova? The answer is ‘it depends’. At the time the Russian swimmer’s case came to light, her agent stated Efmova tested positive in 2 out-of-competition tests in February 2016 while training in Los Angeles. One was administered by swimming governing body FINA and the other by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Mitkov said. So, on the surface, the dates meet the criteria of the tests themselves having been taken prior to March 1st.
Now as to her 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.” (TASS)
Salnikov did comment that, “the official data from FINA on the concentration of meldonium in Yulia Efimova’s doping sample may help lifting the ban on her participation in the international tournaments.”