Yulia Efimova Suspended For 16 Months, Stripped of Medals and World Record

The FINA Doping Panel has levied a 16-month suspension on Russian breaststroker Yulia Efimova, dated from October 31, 2013 through February 28th, 2015. This was after a positive test for the substance 7-keto-DHEA, which is classed by the World Anti-Doping Code as an Endogenous Anabolic Androgenic Steroid.

The substance is similar to regular DHEA, but is not converted directly to testosterone or estrogen, and is marketed as a dietary supplement for weight loss. The substance is legal for sale to the general public in the United States.

FINA did accept that Efimova did “not intend to use 7-Keto DHEA in order to enhance her sport performance” and that rather she believed she was taking a simple, legal, L-carnitine supplement.

See the full decision document here.

According to the FINA Doping Panel’s full decision, Efimova tested positive in a urine sample taken on October 31st, 2013, in an out-of-competition doping control conducted by FINA. The sample was tested at the Montreal, Canada WADA accredited laboratory, as Efimova lives and trains for most of the year in Los Angeles in the United States.

Efimova, through her representative Howard Jacobs (who has represented many United-States-based swimmers in their FINA proceedings, including Jessica Hardy and Omar Pinzon), waived the test of the B sample, and provided a supplement known as “Cellucor CLK,” which was purchased from a GNC store, as the source of the positive test.

Per documentation, she “contended that she did not bear significant fault for her positive test and that pursuant to FINA DC 10.5.2 the minimum possible period of ineligibility of only twelve (12) months should apply”. In other words, she never asked for a total waiving of suspension, and sought the same leniency that her Trojan Swim Club training partner Jessica Hardy got after a positive test in 2008.

Despite 7-keto-DHEA being a listed ingredient on Cellucor CLK (unlike Hardy, who claimed a tainted supplement), Efimova claimed that her short period of use (just one week) and 12 other clean tests during the year should have provided her some leniency. She said that the salesperson at GNC told her that Cellucor CLK was doping-free and that it was a better product of than one that Efimova has taken for a long period of time.

Efimova also testified that “her coach at the Trojan Swim Club, David Salo, is adamantly opposed to the use of supplements of any kind” and that “her coach frequently tells his swimmers that they can get all the nutrition they need through a well balanced diet and that supplements are unnecessary.” Efimova also cited warnings from Hardy about supplements. This is significant, given some concerns from the swimming community over the high number of positive tests that have come out of the Trojan Swim Club group.

The Doping Panel referred to Efimova’s “naivete” in trusting the salesperson at GNC when purchasing the product, and attributed her lack of English as a possible contributing factor. They also acknowledged clean tests on October 21st and November 10th, both of which came back clean and both of which corroborate Efimova’s claim to have only used the substance for one week.

Though they made several concessions, the Doping Panel said that “her care and caution in purchasing and using supplements and failing to read the ingredients on the label of supplements that she used fell considerably below the level that should be expected from an elite international swimmer and world record holder.”

In other words, the panel is holding her to a higher standard of cause because of her position in the sport.

Ultimately, the “Competitor’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body” clause was cited as the reason for a 16-month suspension. The “degree of fault” determines where in a range of 12 months (minimum) to 24 months (maximum) Efimova’s suspension fell, and the panel decided that 16 months was the appropriate time period.

Efimova will be stripped of her results from the positive test forward, which includes loss of World Records in the 50 and 200 breaststrokes in short course meters, done on November 10th at a FINA World Cup and December 13th at the European Championships, respectively.

Efimova will further be stripped of four golds and a silver from the 2013 European Championships. While FINA did not specifically mention the relay medals won by Russia in two relays at the European Short Course Championships in December, they too are probable to be on the chopping block. We have asked for clarification on this fact.

See more about how the medals will come out here.

Efimova will not lose her two gold medals from the 2013 World Championships. She and her attorneys will have 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, if they so choose. The suspension will return her to competition just in time to compete at Russia’s trials for their hosted 2015 World Championships in Kazan, though by rule she is unable to train as part of an organized team during her suspension.

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9 years ago

Vitamins with iron orthomol radically the incorrect information

9 years ago

Sure, every professional swimmer asks a “salesperson” what he/she should eat. Perhaps she also asks the people in charge of cleaning the pool to green-light her training schedule. I don’t know whether I should be laughing or crying. Perhaps both.

Reply to  Luigi
9 years ago

And mind you, this is not just any professional swimmer, this is a world record holder, world champion with probably quite substantial endorsement opportunities in Russia, being pretty and all.

9 years ago

WOW!! as they say something in the water is not clean. Her story is not entirely plausible and is the onus not on the athlete/swimmer to know what they are putting into the body at all times?

Does this mean that she cannot train with the Trojan team for the duration of her suspension? I also think people need to pay more attention as to what is going with the Trojans, I am hearing too many unsettling storing coming out of that camp for my liking

Darryl Washington
9 years ago

Salo says that because he doesn’t want his swimmers getting hit like Jessica did. That was a huge blow for his program because that reflects on the coaches as well as the swimmer. I’m actually for taking supplements because nutrition will get you through but its the extra ummph you need sometimes, as long as its legal and cleared, why not. Cellucor products have had a history of positive test results. C4 for example will show up as a methamphetamine if you take too much. But its a simple prey workout powder. You have to do your homework when it comes to this stuff! We have one of the toughest doping policies in the OIC and Fina

Darryl Washington
9 years ago

When will swimmers learn that you just cant take any supplement without checking with a certified trainer first! A lot of national calibur swimmers take/took stuff (myself included) but I always checked first and made sure it cleared. That’s lack of due diligence.

bobo gigi
9 years ago

😆 😆 😆 😆
She will win the 200 breast world gold medal at home in 2015.
The dictator will be happy.
Everything is normal. 😥

Tyson Gay, Yulia Efimova and all the others who took big doping products like EPO or steroids should be banned for at least 5 years.

And please, stop making me laugh with the stories of supplements.
Nobody needs these dirty things in his body.
One of my sports idols, Allyson Felix, said last year she didn’t swallow anything except normal food and normal drinks. She said she didn’t even take vitamin C. No risks. No bad surprises.

Reply to  bobo gigi
9 years ago

Hey fella,don’t you worry ’bout dictator,he’s just the first one to stop USA from taking over,and looking at how he’s doing in a combo with China,USA is slowly but surely coming to it’s end.

Reply to  European
9 years ago

Hmm China won’t take over swimming until the mid- 2020’s, and Russia still won’t be ahead of the U.S.A. by then. Oh, I can only assume that you’re talking about swimming, since Bobo’s joke was tongue in cheek and a serious discussion of geopolitics would be inappropriate on a friendly swimming forum. 😉

Reply to  liquidassets
9 years ago

I don’t think he was talking about swimming.

Reply to  PsychoDad
9 years ago

Yeah, I got that. Just trying to diplomatically nip that kind of thing in the bud.

Reply to  European
9 years ago

Yes,I wasn’t talking about swimming.Just get pissed reading comments from stupid and brainwashed americans trying to come out as smart thinking that their country and politicians are best.But,as said,not the place to discuss this.дувај киту гринго.

Reply to  European
9 years ago

Unless I’m mistaken, Bobo is French, not a “brainwashed American.”

Reply to  mcgillrocks
9 years ago

Yeah , Mr European is new here and doesn’t know who are the first fans of swimswam . He will learn who is who pretty soon .

9 years ago

There’s something in the water down in Trojan-land.

Reply to  CraigH
9 years ago

Craigh: LOL 😀

9 years ago

What convenient timing of the end of her suspension!

While her explanation is plausible and credit to her for not disputing the positive test, it seems a bit lame to just be able to plead ‘sorry, bad Eeeeenglish’ and get a reduced ban as a result.

After the Hardy incident you would have thought she would have known better, I find it hard to believe she could be that naive. She may be ‘only 22’ but she’s been an elite level swimmer for a long time now.

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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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