Updating The Story Line On Russian And Chinese Doping

Earlier this month we gathered all of the most recent doping-related posts involving the recurring issues within the nations of Russia and China. In the never-ending cycle that now characterizes this persistent newsmaker, let’s take a look at anti-doping updates since our last headline round-up.


Regarding the highest-profile Russian doping case that’s still open, that of Yulia Efimova, the reigning 100m breaststroke World Champion reportedly sent a letter to FINA around the date of April 13th, asking for her current temporary suspension to be removed so that she may compete at Russia’s Olympic Trials in Moscow, which began on the 16th of this month.

Within days FINA rejected Efimova’s request, instead deciding to uphold the temporary suspension. In FINA’s statement, it read that the “FINA Doping Panel decided to maintain the provisional suspension of this athlete [Yulia Efimova] until a hearing of Ms. Efimova is held by the FINA Doping Panel.”

The request stemmed from the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WAD)A had softened its position on the drug meldonium, as the organization conceded on April 13th that, “in the case of meldonium, there is currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times.”

As such, WADA altered its original absolute prohibited stance by adding qualification criteria that factors into an athlete’s guilt. 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.

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.”

In the meantime, Efimova’s Olympic hopes remain alive, as just prior to the start of her nation’s Trials, the Russian Swimming Federation announced an amendment to its Olympic qualifying criteria.

Olympic qualifying is no longer limited to just the Russian Championships. While winners at the Championships who are under the Russian qualifying standards, slightly faster than those set by FINA, are assured of their spots, Russia has made an exception for filling the second qualifying spot. If due to circumstances out of their control they’re unable to compete at the championship, a time swum at any meet between January 1 and April 1, if it’s faster than the 2nd-place finisher at the Russian Championships, may be considered for selection.

That leaves the door open for the temporarily-suspended Yulia Efimova, who feels she has a strong case to not be suspended after a positive test for the newly-banned substance Meldonium, to qualify for the Olympic team even though she isn’t competing at the Russian Championships.

Russian President Putin has weighed in on the issue to an extent, stating to the media, “This substance [meldonium] was never considered as doping. It doesn’t influence the result. That’s totally certain. It just keeps the heart muscles in good condition under high load.”

While the drug’s makers don’t believe it should be considered performance-enhancing, they do say that in its early days, it improved the endurance and oxygen-carrying capacity for Soviet troops operating in high-altitude, low-oxygen environments.

That statement came on the heels of WADA having revoked the  accreditation of the Moscow Antidoping Center in Russia due to non-compliance with the International Standard for Laboratories. The laboratory had been suspended since November 10th after being investigated by the WADA Independent Commission.

The revocation, which has been accepted by the Laboratory, will enter into force immediately and means that the Laboratory will continue to be prevented from carrying out the testing of doping control samples on behalf of WADA or any testing authority.


The doping situation has been a bit quieter on the Chinese front, however, just today WADA announced it has suspended the nation’s Anti-Doping Laboratory due to ‘non-conformities’ with standards. The suspension, which has a maximum of 4 months, takes effect immediately and  “prohibits the laboratory from carrying out any WADA-related anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.”

The lab is now required to take 5 remedial steps, as dictated by WADA’s disciplinary committee, to address the non-conformities. If taken, the 4-month suspension can be lifted early.

Related posts for more details on each milestone, with the most recent denoted with *:

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8 years ago

the same goes for if caffeine is banned in the future.
Not defending sun yang . just thinking critically.

Sun yang should have read the updated list?
You do realize that chinada didn’t update the list on their website, do you?

8 years ago

BILLABONG but if marijuana is banned, Phelps would also be a confirmed drugs cheat.

TA clenbuterol is not a steroid per say. It,s used mainly for losing weight.

8 years ago

sun yang, the past doping offender tested positive for stuff that was previously legal. If WADA decided tomorrow that marijuana is illegal, then Phelps would be a past doping offender too. In fact if WADA decided to ban a whole lot of stuff tomorrow including some vitamins then a whole bunch of athletes would be past doping offenders.

As for the recent clenbuterol positives in china. Testing positive for clenbuterol is not hard in china given that it is very easy for meat to be contaminated with clenbuterol in china. If it was some other serious steroid then that,s a different matter. A lot of stuff on WADA,s list are suspect and have not been proven to be performance enhancers.

Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

Carlo I don’t agree with anything you write on this topic. Clenobuterol is not a serious steroid? No one will take you serious with that statement.

Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

No Carlo, there is no similarity between Phelps’ historical use of canabis and Sun Yang’s use of a banned stimulant. Sun was caught AFTER the drug was banned. Phelps has never been caught AFTER a drug has been banned. He reads the list just like all athletes should, so even your hypothetical is NOT equivalent. Sun is a confirmed drug cheat, period.

Joel Lin
8 years ago

The swimmers cheated out of Olympic medals by the prolific doping of the Chinese women weren’t just Americans. It affected other Asia, European and Latin American athletes as well.

If my memory serves, the BALCO scandal involved baseball players from the US but also several Dominicans. The Tour du France is the United Nations of sports doping.

I fail to see how my view is nationalistic or charged toward China with any unfairness. They have a long history of serial and systemic drug cheating. Sun Yang, their most iconic Olympian is a past drug offender. Nothing to apologize for in noting this.

Reply to  Joel Lin
8 years ago

A lot of commenters here like to point out individual doping cases in the United States when you say the word systemic. I don’t think they understand what systemic means.

Victor P
Reply to  completelyconquered
8 years ago

Ding, ding!

Systemic – see recent scandal in Russia, previously in China (although I’m thinking not so previous), previously in Balco, and the greatest of all offenders: East Germany.

8 years ago

I say test Chinese (Sun Yang) and Park from London samples. Just saying….

Reply to  rose
8 years ago

They were both tested positive and were banned for a period of time though. Although both denied having any knowdlege of taking the doping (sun yang said it was to cure his heart problem – which he has been having since 2008, park said it was to cure his knee problem and had no knowledge of what was injected to his knee by his chiro). But I think Park handled the case better than Sun. At least he took the responsibility, apologised and understand that he will have to live with the labe drug cheat for the rest of his career. Sun Yang however is very adamant that he didn’t do anything wrong, and when he said something it implies… Read more »

8 years ago

Any further testing of that Chinese teenager that had a faster time than the men’s gold medal for that same event? I smell something fishy in that one

Reply to  Dl
8 years ago

To the best of my knowledge, no woman at any OG in the past 50 years has beaten the men’s gold medal winner from the same games in any event. My guess is you’re thinking of Ye Shiwen’s final split of the 400 IM. She was faster than Lochte on the final 50 by about a tenth. He went out fast and died like a dog, she swam a more composed first 300 and then hammered the last 100. Her time was 23 seconds slower than his.

Doesn’t seem too fishy to me.

Victor P
Reply to  sven
8 years ago

What a poor way to describe her final 100 meters. To put in perspective, her final 100 in the 400 IM was faster than the final 100m of the Olympic record swim by Allison Schmitt in the 200 free (1:53.61/55.38/58.23). Shiwen’s final 100 was 58.68 (breast to free transition) which is like a 57 high – free to free ‘transition’. Schmitt’s final 100 in her race was about a second faster than anyone in that final field, producing the fastest textile swim ever in that event. Shiwen’s last 100 was over 3 seconds faster than the next two fastest over the final 100 and more than 4 seconds faster than the remaining 5 competitors. Furthermore, Shiwen, although able to produce… Read more »

8 years ago

Joel Lin I agree that the Chinese are more sophisticated now but if you want to see real sophistication then lance Armstrong is the guy. The balco scandal also beats out them Chinese.

Steve-O Nolan
Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

That can’t be true because American athletes are above reproach.

*fans flames*

Irish Ringer
Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

True, Armstrong is a disgrace, but the sport of cycling is one of the dirtiest out there. Go ahead and look at the historyof that sport and then STEVE-O NOLAN can fan his flames at several countries 🙂

I offer you the top 10 finishers of the Tour De france since 1998:

Reply to  Irish Ringer
8 years ago

Actually, in a fight for survival, the Tour de France has taken more drastic measures than most sport federations, including setting up the biological passport system for athletes and kicking out offenders.

Swimming is dirtier today than cycling, unfortunately.

Reply to  Crawler
8 years ago

No way. The biological passport is easily circumvented by microdosing, and there is WAY more money on the line in cycling.

Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

No doubt that Balco was a shame, but it was also centered on baseball where players make millions and anti-doping was and remains a joke. If an America swimmer is caught he should be publicly made an example like any other.

The real threat in swimming is the role played by states which view winning gold medals are means of acquiring international prestige. When a country encourages doping, supports its athletes when they get caught and intimidates the antidoping authorities, the outcome is very ugly. Sun Yang getting three months retroactive suspension and a Peruvian flier getting four years??? Is this a system that works?

I believe the system is dysfunctional and so did Filio Magnini last year when he… Read more »

Victor P
Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

Nice way to change the subject, Carlo! And, really, to what end? If American swimmers failed their tests we would be adamantly against them competing, as well. I don’t think you’ll hear ANY fan of American swimming who will defend a cheater. We want them out!

It doesn’t matter where the cheater comes from. It will ruin the sport.

Justin B
Reply to  Victor P
8 years ago

Why was Amy Van Dyken on the Balco client list? People seem to forget this.

Joel Lin
8 years ago

I have one question not addressed here: what happens now so that Chinese and Russian athletes are consistently subject to random drug tests between now and Rio?

My hope is one consequence out of this is WADA could impose and open season on testing Chinese and Russian athletes at a high frequency and do so with independent labs. This could make systemic doping between now and Rio nearly impossible to administer. Of course, this also assumes WADA has appetites to get this tough in lieu of smoothing over a political accord to ratify Chinese and Russian labs. I don’t believe anyone in the sport of swimming would trust it if China and Russia hustled up through the remedial steps… Read more »

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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