MOSCOW, March 17 /TASS/. Titled Russian swimmer Yuliya Yefimova can explain the presence of doping in her organism only herself, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Thursday.
The All-Russian Swimming Federation confirmed on Thursday that it had temporarily suspended Yefimova from all swimming-related competitions because the swimmer might have violated the anti-doping rules. Earlier, it was reported that the 23-year-old athlete is suspected of using meldonium, which the World Anti-Doping Agency included in its list of prohibited formulas as of January 1, 2016.
Asked if the All-Russian Swimming Federation had provided any explanations how the outlawed drug could have gotten into Yefimova’s blood, Mutko answered that no one had explained anything to anybody. "It’s only the athlete himself who can explain it," he added.
"There is a problem with this formula [mildronate -TASS] and we should consider it in detail. Each case is individual. Each athlete has the right to choose his or her version of defense. As far as Yefimova is concerned, she lives in the United States where she trains with American athletes. In this case, every athlete makes his own decisions and gives his own explanations. There can be mitigating circumstances, and in this case the athlete may defend his/her rights. I repeat, every case is individual," Mutko told TASS.
Yefimova, who is Russia’s 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in swimming, the four-time world champion and many times winner of European tournaments, has already been once under suspension for doping abuse.
She was deprived of five medals at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in October 2013.
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 has been 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.
Athletes use meldonium (mildronate) to increase resistance to high strenuous activity and physical strain during training sessions as well as for easing emotional, nervous and psychological stresses at competitions. The formula is also used for preventive treatment of heart problems predominantly in the Commonwealth of Independent States. WADA blacklisted meldonium as a prohibited drug as of January 1, 2016. The formula refers to S4 class in the WADA list (hormones and metabolism modulators).
The presence of the meldonium substance in the athlete’s blood during and between competitions is a violation of anti-doping rules.