Yulia Efimova Says She Will Seek Neutral Olympic Status – If She Thinks She Can Medal

Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, a three-time Olympic medalist in breaststroke races, has said that she plans to apply for neutral status to race at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Efimova, 32, won silver medals in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes at the 2016 Olympic Games and a bronze medal in the 200 breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, she finished 5th in the 100 breaststroke, her only individual event, and swam a prelims leg of Russia’s 7th-place medley relay.

In addition to her Olympic results, Efimova is a six-time World Champion and seven-time European Champion.

Efimova has for years lived and trained in the United States in Southern California.

Efimova says that while she plans to apply for neutral status, she is still not certain if she will pursue the Olympics.

“I plan to apply for neutral status, but I’m still waiting. At the moment I don’t see the point, given my results at the Moscow Championship. If you go to the Olympics, then only for medals,” Efimova said in an interview with metaratings.ru.

The Russian Championships will run from April 14-19 in Kazan.

She says that the application for neutral status indicates that the process can be completed in as few as two weeks, but always within a month. That implies that swimmers have until May 23rd to get their application for neutrality approved before the June 23rd Olympic nomination deadline.

Efimova’s Russian breaststroking colleague Evgeniia Chikunova, 19, says that she won’t seek neutral status.

Efimova spent much of the fall season into the new year at home racing in Russia. At the Moscow Championships in March, she swam 1:08.71 in the 100 breaststroke in long course, putting her well behind Chikunova’s 1:07.40 winning time.

Before that, she last swam at the Vladimir Salnikov Cup in mid-December, where she won the 50 breast (29.76) and was 2nd in the 100 breast (1:04.90) in short course meters.

The IOC has placed conditions on Russian and Belarusian athletes’ participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, including a commitment to respect the Olympic Charter, including “the peace mission of the Olympic Movement” among other conditions. The IOC says that the Russian and Belarusian invasion of Ukraine and specifically Russia’s annexation of regional Ukrainian sporting organizations is a violation of the Olympic charter, a point that was upheld by the international Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this year.

Individual athletes (but not teams) who compete with neutral status are allowed to compete, but they cannot attend the opening ceremonies and will not be mentioned in the medals table. Russia was officially barred from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games due to issues with the country’s anti-doping system, though the restrictions on participation in the last edition were much less than those imposed for the 2024 Games.

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Alison England
1 month ago

She should never have been allowed back after her doping violations.

1 month ago

For the love of swimming, no

1 month ago

who does she train with?

Johnson Swim school
Reply to  owen
1 month ago


Just Keep Swimming
1 month ago

Putin is not going to hurt her family if she participates. If she wins a medal she’ll be celebrated. As Braden has said, if Russia wanted to make an example they would just say “these are a sham games and no Russian can participate”. The fact they haven’t done that suggests they’re not against it.

1 month ago

Hope she competes…great personality for the sport

1 month ago

Let’s be honest, any athlete who takes the neutral status option can probably never return to Russia safely and would have legitimate fears for the safety of their family still living there. We can hardly blame Efimova or anyone else for being very wary of going down that route, even if they’re privately strongly against the war.

Last edited 1 month ago by Togger
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

She isn’t even the fastest Russian now. I know the fastest has said no thanks but seriously doubt Yulia is podium material these days!
Wonder where she lives/trains these days?

Liam Thompson
1 month ago

I’m here for the final (?) battle ‘tween Yulia, Lily, and (maybe) Lydia.

Yeah, baby!

Stewart Fenwick
Reply to  Liam Thompson
1 month ago

Ruta: hold my goggles

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

I am still mad at Lilly King for demonizing this girl who was the victim of a language barrier in a GNC and then a ban on a substance which she took based on medical advice. I’m American through and through but the treatment Yulia received from so many people was criminal. She hasn’t even lived in Russia for YEARS.

Last edited 1 month ago by I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

I’m mad at people who are so gullible for believing fairy tales and not opening their eyes to state sponsored doping.

She failed drug tests on MORE THAN ONE OCCASION. I’m sorry but you can claim contaminated substances once, but twice?? No.

Reply to  Swammer
1 month ago

Before you post, learn the facts. When it came to the Rio Olympics and Efimova’s positive test for meldonium, WADA never did its due diligence on meldonium. Meldonium was added to the ban list on 1 January 2016. Efimova said she stopped taking meldonium in December 2015. Since WADA had done zero testing on meldonium, it had no documented clinical evidence on how long meldonium stayed in a person’s system. I don’t know if WADA has the information eight years later. Efimova’s positive test occurred in March 2016, when she tested positive while training in California. She never denied taking meldonium. Until 2016, it was not considered performance-enhancing. And she never claimed contaminated substances. And wasn’t her first claim proved… Read more »

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
Reply to  Swammer
1 month ago

She has lived in Los Angeles since 2011. If there was state-sponsored doping (which I am not denying), she might not have even been there for it. Dave Salo was her coach, it’s not like she had some under-the-table Russia-connected coach while she was training for Rio.
Plus, if there is state-sponsored doping, especially in Russia, that’s is probably something that is forced upon the athletes rather than a choice they make. I cannot say that with certainty, but we’ve seen what the Russian government has made. So we should blame the government for that, not the individual swimmers, unless they give us reason to believe they do it by choice, like with Sun Yang, who was extremely hostile… Read more »

Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

the finger wag is iconic. drugs aside, Yulia showed arrogance and Lilly responded with her swim first, before her mouth.
If you’re gonna be wagging your finger like that, at least be able to back it up with fast swimming.
You’re supposed to celebrate after you win, not before you lose.
Kudos to Lilly.

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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