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 *:
- Meldonium added to WADA’s banned substances list
- WADA Commission Releases Report on Systematic Russian Doping
- Moscow Testing Lab Used in 2015 FINA Worlds, Compromised
- WADA Suspends the Accreditation of the Moscow Laboratory
- RUSADA Director-General Ramil Khabriev Steps Down as Head of the Agency
- Yulia Efimova Fails Doping Test, Could Face Lifetime Ban Per Russia Media
- Efimova Maintains Innocence, Hopes to Compete in Rio
- Dave Salo Makes Statement on Efimova Doping Case
- Jacco Verhaeren Says Russian Doping Allegations are of Little Surprise
- Water Polo Player Brings Russian Meldonium Positive Total to 23
- Russian Swimmer Martynova Issued 4-Year Ban for Failed Doping Test
- 6 Chinese Swimmers Have Failed Doping Tests Since Fall of 2015
- 3 of 6 Chinese Swimmers Who Failed Drug Tests Named
- 2 0f 3 Chinese Who Failed Doping Tests Issued Warning Penalty
- Wang Lizhuo Sets 100 Breast JWR
- WADA’s Latest Meldonium Statement May Excuse Some Athletes*
- Efimova Sends Letter To FINA Asking For Suspension To be Lifted*
- FINA Denies Efimova’s Request For Provisional Suspension To Be Lifted*
- Russia Changes Olympic Qualifying Standards*
- Putin Says Meldonium Not Performance Enhancer*
- WADA Revokes Moscow Accreditation*
- WADA Suspends Accredidation of Beijing Anti-Doping Lab*