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Russian swimmer Yefimova says she used meldonium for medical reasons

March 21, 15:31 UTC+3
According to the titled athlete, she used mildronate last time when it was legal and allowed
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Yuliya Yefimova

Yuliya Yefimova

© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. Russia’s titled swimmer, four-time world champion Yuliya Yefimova has admitted that she has tested positive for meldonium (sold under the brand name Mildronate) that was banned starting January 1, 2016. However, she used this medication for medical reasons, the athlete said on Monday on the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

"The blood samples taken from me in Los Angeles in February tested positive for meldonium," she said.

According to her, she used mildronate last time when it was legal and allowed. "I took it for medical reasons after carefully studying the direction. Experts are currently trying to find out how meldonium traces could be found in the samples taken months after I completed the course," she said.

 In Yefimova's words, she did not receive notifications on meldonium ban from January 1 and will insist all accusations in doping use are lifted off her.

"I have not received any notifications that meldonium will be included in the list of banned substances from 1 January 2016. Not even one. Neither from Russian nor from international organizations. Neither in the electronic form nor verbally," Yefimova told Rossiya 24 TV channel on Monday.

"I categorically reject accusations of doping use. We are currently preparing for hearings of my case. We intend to insist on all accusations to be lifted and prove that I did not violate anti-doping rules," Yefimova added.

The athlete noted that she continues training in hopes that she will be able to take part in 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

Yefimova's agent Andrey Mitkov said in an interview with Rossiya 24 TV Channel that she will be prepared to take her case to the Court for Arbitration for sport, if the hearings at the international swimming federation FINA in Lausanne are unsuccessful.

"Yuliya’s way towards the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has been long and hard. For this reason there just cannot be any other task facing her or her team for a variety of reasons. True, it is complicated, but there is no other way out. The other option implies lifetime disqualification. At the moment we are waiting for news from the US Anti-Doping Agency regarding the sample taken on February 24. Secondly, we are getting ready for FINA hearings. We’ll wait and see. It is to be hoped it will be all over. We know from experience that the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne may be next," Mitkov said.

According to him, Yefimova's two positive doping samples will be examined as one case.

"It is known about two positive doping samples. The first sample was taken on February 15 on order from FINA [the International Swimming Federation]. The second sample was taken at the request of the US Anti-Doping Agency. They have determined it as the continuation of the February 15 story. They have said they won’t institute a second case. They will examine it as part of the first case," Mitkov said.

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.

Overall, 102 athletes have already tested positive for meldonium. The names of 15 athletes, who used the banned preparation, including 11 Russians, are already known. The Russian athletes who tested positive for meldonium include Nadezhda Kotlyarova, speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, biathlete Eduard Latypov, cyclist Eduard Vorganov, figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova, tennis player Maria Sharapova, short-track skaters Semion Elistratov and Ekaterina Konstantinova, volleyball player Aleksandr Markin and rugby players Alexey and Alena Mikhaltsov.

A source also told TASS on Thursday that this substance had been found in the doping sample of Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva.

The presence of this formula 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).

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