Swimming: Russia's Efimova has doping suspension lifted pending CAS ruling

Yuliya Efimova smiling after winning the women's 100m breaststroke swimming event at the 2015 Fina World Championships in Kazan, on Aug 4, 2015.
Yuliya Efimova smiling after winning the women's 100m breaststroke swimming event at the 2015 Fina World Championships in Kazan, on Aug 4, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian world champion swimmer Yulia Efimova, who tested positive for meldonium, has had a temporary suspension lifted pending a final ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Russian head coach Sergey Kolmogorov told Tass on Friday.

"I can confirm the information that the temporary suspension has been lifted," the Russian news agency quoted him as saying. "She is now allowed to practise anywhere in the world, including at the base in Los Angeles."

Efimova, who missed this week's European Championships in London, can now train but could yet face a life ban from competitive swimming as she previously failed a drugs test in 2014.

Swimming's world governing body Fina said last month that it had decided to maintain Efimova's provisional suspension until a hearing of its doping panel at the end of May.

However, Russian swimming federation president Vladimir Salnikov told Tass that the CAS in Lausanne would make the final ruling.

Efimova, 24, is a four-time breaststroke world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist in 200 metres. She has been based in the United States since 2011.

The swimmer, who would be a medal contender at the upcoming Rio Olympics if allowed to compete, returned a positive result for meldonium during an out-of-competition test and was suspended on March 14.

"I am really happy for Yulia Efimova," Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS. "Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) has taken absolutely the right decision to recommend that Efimova's temporary ban is lifted.

"From March 1, she had a small does of the banned substance in her test. All the evidence shows that she took this substance last year."

Meldonium is a Latvian-made heart medication which was added to Wada's banned list from Jan 1.

Hundreds of athletes have tested positive for meldonium this year but Wada said last month that their bans might be overturned due to a lack of clear scientific information on how long the drug takes to be excreted from the body.

In May 2014, Efimova was disqualified for 16 months by Fina after traces of the anabolic steroid DHEA, which speeds up metabolism and helps with weight loss, were found in her system at an out-of-competition test in Los Angeles in 2013.

The possibility of Efimova competing in Rio Olympics would not sit well with some of her rivals.

Lithuania's Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Ruta Meilutyte said last year, after being beaten by Efimova at the World Championships in Russia, that she could not see the Russian as "a true honest competitor any more".