MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. The refusal of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to lift the temporary suspension from Russia’s Olympic medalist in swimming Yulia Yefimova, imposed after she had tested positive for banned substance meldonium, is strange and incomprehensible, swimmer’s former coach Irina Vyatchanina told TASS on Wednesday.
FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu told TASS late last month that the federation decided against lifting the temporary suspension of Efimova before her case was considered by the FINA Doping Panel.
"It is an established fact that the concentration of the substance discovered in Efimova’s doping sample was not exceeding the norm," Vyatchanina, who coached Yefimova until 2011, said in an interview with TASS. "However, it is not clear why the temporary suspension was not lifted or at least she was permitted to practice before the session of the FINA Doping Panel on May 30."
"Yulia at the moment is even unable to practice normally. She had to return to Russia, to Volgodonsk," Vyatchanina said. "This is definitely a negative moment for the swimmer considering the fact that there is little time left before the Summer Olympic Games [in Brazil this summer]."
Efimova, who is Russia’s 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in swimming, the four-time world champion and many times winner of European tournaments, announced last month that her doping sample taken in February had showed the presence of meldonium. The swimmer was suspended immediately from all international tournaments.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced on April 13 that the concentration of less than one microgram of meldonium in the body system of an athlete, whose doping tests were conducted before March 1, was acceptable.
The drug meldonium (mildronate) was included in the list of preparations banned by WADA from January 1, 2016. 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).
Meldronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without doctor’s prescription.