Russia’s reigning 100 breaststroke world champion Yulia Efimova has reportedly failed a doping test and could face a lifetime ban from the sport, according to Russian media.
Sport-Express.ru reports that Efimova’s failed test became public late on Wednesday night in Russian time. The site’s source says Efimova tested positive for meldonium, the same drug that tripped up tennis star Maria Sharapova earlier this month.
The Russian swimming federation confirmed in a separate story that it was aware Efimova had tested positive for meldonium.
Meldonium is a drug that increases blood flow in patients with ischemia, but it can also increase an athlete’s exercise capacity. It has been monitored by WADA since 2015 and was added to the WADA banned list starting at the beginning of 2016.
Efimova could face a penalty as harsh as a lifetime ban because this wouldn’t be her first doping offense. Efimova tested positive for 7-keto-DHEA back in 2013 and was hit with a 16-month suspension and stripped of two world records and five international medals as a punishment.
At the time, Efimova said she didn’t know the substance was illegal, saying she was told the substance was OK to take by a salesperson at GNC.
Efimova was last summer’s World Champion in the 100 breaststroke and would have contended for the 200 meter title if she hadn’t missed the final with a poor morning swim. She recently put up the world’s fastest 100 breaststroke time for this current season while winning the Arena Pro Swim Series at Orlando just a few weeks ago.
Efimova’s positive test comes after Russia has taken some significant heat for alleged doping scandals within its athletics program. That scandal included allegations that the country was compromising the integrity of its Moscow-based WADA anti-doping lab and breaking rules to keep its athletes eligible despite positive doping tests.