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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7 years ago

Yowza. Can you clarify the last sentence— does it mean she can’t train with an organized team?

aswimfan
Reply to  Braden Keith
7 years ago

Just like in the case of Jessica Hardy. She was supposedly banned from training with any club, and yet only a few weeks gong back to competition, she already broke WR.

It is a mockery of WADA/FINA and evidence of random rules (or random oversight) for the punishment of positive test of banned substances. Does anyone here really beliieve Hardy was training on her own in her backyard pool during her ban?

Mirabella76
7 years ago

She commented on it and said she’s going to keep on training in US for World Trials and Kazan.

Eddie Rowe
7 years ago

She looks a lot like Tracy Spiridakos in that picture. http://images.tvrage.com/people/67/199399.png

Paul
7 years ago

So an elite athlete & world champion is taking nutritional advice from the sales clerk at GNC!!

Reply to  Paul
7 years ago

that should be a crime in it of itself!

Satchmo
Reply to  Paul
7 years ago

haha exactly. “i asked the guy at the counter and he said it was fine.” This is one of the more entertaining excuses I’ve seen.

European
Reply to  Paul
7 years ago

If I’m not wrong she trains with Trojans.Knowing how many of their athletes have fallen,it’s nothing new.I know a guy from my country who came to train with Mike Bottom at Cal when he was there,and if I am not mistaken he was giving them racing horse supplements.And who knows what kinda of shit did Phelps take…Mabe will find out a decade later like with Armstrong,but most likely never…

beachmouse
Reply to  Paul
7 years ago

It could be worse. Track star Lashawn Merritt’s doping positive came because he trusted a 7-11 convenience store clerk when it came to products to enhance his love life. Turns out some things in Enzyte are on the WADA banned list.

Philip Johnson
7 years ago

It’s a shame her punishment didn’t extend to the 2013 World Championships as well.

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Philip Johnson
7 years ago

Overall I’m happy with the punishment, a very hard line approach on FINA’s part.

Archaic
Reply to  Philip Johnson
7 years ago

I know!! They should at least chop off a hand t7oo (/s). Please, she took a supplement for one week that doesn’t even do anything (beyond a placebo affect).

Satchmo
Reply to  Archaic
7 years ago

people who blindly believe cheating athlete’s excuses are part of the problem.

liquidassets
Reply to  Philip Johnson
7 years ago

I was thinking the opposite; that her sentence should be longer. I am not really buying her story, especially after warnings from Hardy herself and Salo, who by all accounts has been anti-supplement for many years (in fact he warned Hardy and the others at USC about supplements prior to Hardy’s 2008 suspension). GNC?? Didn’t understand the English?? C’mon, at her level, she can’t be that ignorant. It sounds like a cover story for something else.

Also, her suspension is similar to Hardy’s despite Hardy’s supplement not advertised as containing the clenbuterol that it did on later testing. For the record, although Hardy’s story was more believable to me, I thought she also got off relatively easy compared to… Read more »

PsychoDad
Reply to  liquidassets
7 years ago

They are not dumb not to know what they are doing. They “act” dumb and take chances knowing they can play dumb card when caught. Until someone is banned for life, we will have “dumb” swimmers all the time.

O_O
Reply to  PsychoDad
7 years ago

Agreed, athletes caught doping should be banned for life. All previous awards and records should be revoked and erased.

aswimfan
Reply to  liquidassets
7 years ago

I agree with Liquidassets that her ban period should be longer.
The DHEA ingredient was already displayed on the package of the nutritient that Efimovva alegedly bought.
Is she illiterate in latin alphabet too?

This will send quite a very bad precedent. Meanwhile one of my fellow indonesian swimmer was banned for two years for the same positive test, and he claimed a particular supplement was recommended by other athletes.

So much inconsistencies and unfairness when applying anti-doping rules, whcih is supposed to be strict to be effective as a deterrant.

DanishSwimFan
7 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.

CraigH
7 years ago

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

Luigi
Reply to  CraigH
7 years ago

Craigh: LOL 😀

bobo gigi
7 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.

European
Reply to  bobo gigi
7 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.

liquidassets
Reply to  European
7 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. 😉

PsychoDad
Reply to  liquidassets
7 years ago

I don’t think he was talking about swimming.

liquidassets
Reply to  PsychoDad
7 years ago

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

European
Reply to  European
7 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.

mcgillrocks
Reply to  European
7 years ago

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

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  mcgillrocks
7 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 .

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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