Efimova dismisses doping accusations

Russian Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova plans to prove that she did not violate anti-doping regulations. However, if found guilty, she could face a life ban.
Russian Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova plans to prove that she did not violate anti-doping regulations. However, if found guilty, she could face a life ban.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MOSCOW • Russian Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova has vowed to clear her name of doping accusations after she tested positive for the banned drug meldonium.

"I categorically reject the doping accusation," she said in a home video posted on her Facebook page.

"We are currently preparing for a hearing of my case. We intend to have the accusations completely dismissed and prove that I didn't violate anti-doping regulations."

Efimova, who was suspended for 16 months and stripped of five European titles after testing positive for an anabolic steroid in 2013, could face a life ban if found guilty of a second career doping code violation.

The 23-year-old, who won a bronze in the 200m breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics, conceded that she had taken meldonium for medical reasons before the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) ban on the drug came into effect on Jan 1.

She said experts were now analysing how traces of meldonium could have shown up in her samples months after she stopped taking the drug.

Efimova added that she was training with the hope she could compete at August's Rio de Janeiro Olympics, despite having been suspended by swimming's world governing body Fina earlier this month.

She claimed she had never been notified of meldonium's addition to Wada's list of prohibited substances.

"There was a time in my career during which I missed a year and a half because of my own stupidity," she said of her first suspension.

"Since then I have been carefully monitoring anything that enters my body. I guarantee that all the medication I have taken and am taking is allowed."

Meldonium has been the cause for more than 100 positive sports doping tests - including that of tennis star Maria Sharapova - since it was outlawed.

Its manufacturer came out to say on Monday that the drug can take "several months" to completely leave the body.

Latvian manufacturer Grindeks said meldonium has a half-life of between four and six hours but "its terminal elimination from the body may last for several months" depending on factors such as dose, duration of treatment and sensitivity of testing methods.

A Wada spokesman said on Monday that athletes were made aware that the substance would be added to the banned list last October.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Efimova dismisses doping accusations'. Print Edition | Subscribe