World Juniors Medalist Alexandra Sabitova Suspended 2 Years for Diuretic Test

Russian swimmer Alexandra Sabitova has been given a two-year doping suspension, the Russian Anti-Doping Association announced on Monday. The 18-year old tested positive for furosemide, a banned diuretic, in an anti-doping sample.

Sabitova’s disqualification period was backdated to October 12, 2022. RUSADA says that it is “taking into account” the period served during a temporary suspension, but did not disclose how long that temporary suspension lasted.

The reduction of the suspension period from four years to two years for a first offense implies that Sabitova convinced the anti-doping panel of RUSADA that her doping was not intentional, but provided no evidence for accidental contamination or any other result that would reduce her fault.

Furosemide is a diuretic used medically to treat fluid retention. The substance is not banned because it directly provides a performance-enhancing benefit, but because it can be used to mask other performance-hancing substance by diluting urine samples.

The substance is the same one that was cited by Brazilian superstar Cesar Cielo (and several of his teammates) in his positive test in 2011. He convinced an anti-doping panel that it was contamination of caffeine pills that he took. After the manufacturing lab took fault for the contamination, he received just a warning and loss of results as a penalty.

Australian Olympian Brenton Rickard tested positive for the same in a retroactive drug test of his 2012 Olympic sample, though the IOC ultimately dropped that case. World Champion synchronized swimmer Veronika Hryshko, a Ukrainian, was suspended for 4 months for a furosemide test in 2019.

Studies have shown a high rate of diuretic contamination in generic prescription medication and over-the-counter supplements. An analysis of US Anti-Doping Association cases between 2017 and 2020 showed 9 where pharmaceutical contamination was responsible for positive tests for diuretics, with one study concluding that this was in part due to the increased sensitivity of anti-doping testing technology.

The World Anti-Doping Association put out a Stakeholder Notice about diuretic contamination in 2021 that included new reporting requirements.

Sabitova turned heads when in 2017, she swam a time of 59.42 in the 100 meter fly (long course) at just 12-years old. That was more than two seconds faster, for example, than the fastest-ever American at the same age.

She broke several Russian Junior Records and represented her country internationally at a number of junior-level meets. That includes the 2019 World Junior Swimming Championships, where she won three silver medals as part of Russian relays.

She most recently competed internationally at the 2021 European Junior Swimming Championships, where she placed 8th individually in the 100 fly (1:00.71). Her best time in the event came earlier in 2021 at the Russian Championships where she swam 57.96.

None of those results will be impacted by the suspension. Like other Russian athletes, Sabitova has been unable to compete internationally for most of 2022 because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

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True matters
1 month ago

What à surprise Russian athletes utilizing enhancing drugs or methods to have an edge.

ZH
1 month ago

Russians doping? Never heard of such a thing

SWIMGUY12345
1 month ago

As a physician, absolutely no reason a 12 year old or any healthy athlete should be on furosemide. If you’ve tested positive for this, hate to say it but you’re clearly trying to flush your system and mask something.

SWIMGUY12345
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Ah sorry, just saw she had that breakout meet in 2017 at 12 years old. Either way…never heard of a healthy 18 year old taking furosemide.

swimapologist
Reply to  SWIMGUY12345
1 month ago

You’re getting so close to reading the whole article. Keep going, you can do it!

Probably not medically prescribed, as you said. So either you’re right, she’s using it to cover up doping (weird to dope in a year where you can’t compete internationally), or it was a contaminated pharmaceutical.

We’ll never get certainty on which it was (unless she takes an appeal to IAS), so we’ll each make up our own mind based on our own cultural preferences. Not a satisfying conclusion, but a conclusion none-the-less.

SwimGeek
Reply to  swimapologist
1 month ago

If you’re going to dope . . . isn’t the time to do it precisely when you’re NOT in international competitions where you’re likely to get tested AT that competition?

IU Kicker
Reply to  SwimGeek
1 month ago

WADA doesn’t have to wait for a meet to test you.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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