MOSCOW, March 17. /TASS/. A positive test for performance enhancing drug, which Russia’s Olympic medalist in swimming Yulia Yefimova allegedly used, can be only blamed on her personal doctors, swimmer’s former coach Irina Vyatchanina told TASS on Thursday.
A source in the All Russian Swimming Federation told TASS late on Wednesday night that Yefimova tested positive for meldonium, the performance enhancing drug recently banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
"Only doctors can be blamed for the situation with Yulia," Vyatchanina, who coached Yefimova until 2011, said in an interview with TASS. "They [doctors] were aware of the problem since last September. They should have done everything possible to get the drug out of the swimmer’s body system."
Vyatchanina parted with the 23-year-old titled Russian swimmer in 2011, when Yefimova decided to continue her trainings in the United Station under the supervision of her current coach David Salo.
"I just cannot imagine how they could allow an athlete of such high level and significance as Yulia Yefimova to be caught with such trifle as meldonium," Vyatchanina said. "This is the substance, which the whole world has been warning against since last autumn."
Vyatchanina, who was named the coach of the year in 2009 by reputable Russian magazine Swimming, said it was necessary to launch an investigation into the case with Yefimova.
"An investigation is necessary," she said. "How could specialists not know about the threat of meldonium? Yulia also has a personal coach, who is her father. He should have kept everything under control."
"This is his main responsibility since he was not fully involved in the actual training process," Vyatchanina said. "When I used to coach Yefimova I knew very well about all of her medical programs and drugs she consumed."
Russia’s Olympic bronze medalist in swimming, the four-time world champion and many times winner of European tournaments had already been once under suspension for doping abuse. In 2014 she was issued a 16-month ban after testing positive for a banned substance (steroid DHEA).
The swimmer, who specializes in breaststroke and was considered as Russia’s best hope for podium place at this year’s Olympics in Brazil, could face a lifetime ban for another violation of anti-doping rules.
Russian sports was hit last week by a new case in a chain of doping-related scandals after some of the country’s athletes tested positive for banned substance meldonium.
The drug meldonium (mildronate) was included in the list of preparations banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency from January 1, 2016, after which several Russian athletes tested positive for the banned substance.
Those who have proved to have used meldonium since are cyclist Eduard Vorganov, figure skater Yekaterina Bobrova, tennis player Maria Sharapova, skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, short-track skaters Semion Elistratov and Ekaterina Konstantinova, volleyball player Aleksandr Markin and biathlete Eduard Latypov.
The presence of the meldonium substance in the athlete’s blood during and between competitions is a violation of anti-doping rules. The substance belongs to S4 class on the WADA blacklist (hormones and metabolic modulators).