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Russian sports minister doubts media reports on doping abuse in Russian swimming

March 24, 20:45 UTC+3 MOSCOW
UK daily The Times reported on Wednesday that Russian swimmers had been systematically consuming banned performance enhancing drugs in recent years
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, March 24. /TASS/. Allegations of systematic doping abuse among Russian swimmers, reported on Wednesday by British media, may be considered as "false accustaions," Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Thursday.

UK daily The Times reported on Wednesday that, according to its own investigations, Russian swimmers had been systematically consuming banned performance enhancing drugs in recent years.

According to The Times, its investigations "uncovered an alarming picture of systematic drug use" in Russian swimming over the past decade.

"All statements must be made on behalf of the International Swimming Federation," Mutko said in an interview with TASS. "The Times is not a regulating sports body and only states its own opinion. Today, we may encounter the case of false accusations in regard to [Russian] swimming."

Later on Wednesday, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) announced that it had no data on the allegedly systematic violations of anti-doping regulations by Russian swimmers.

"Any new allegations of doping in our sport, which are substantiated by evidence and which have not already been addressed, will be investigated as a matter of utmost urgency, because we have absolutely zero tolerance for the use of performance-enhancing substances in swimming."

"However, it should be noted that while FINA is not aware of any concrete evidence of systemic doping in Russian swimming, we have taken a particularly robust approach to our anti-doping procedures in relation to Russia and Russian competitions, in light of WADA’s recent investigation," according to FINA.

Two weeks ago Russian sports was hit by a new case in a chain of doping-related scandals after some of the country’s athletes tested positive for banned substance meldonium.

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).

Yulia Efimova, who is Russia’s 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in swimming, the four-time world champion and many times winner of European tournaments, said on Monday her doping sample taken in February had showed the presence of meldonium.

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