Russian swimmer Yefimova to challenge suspension for alleged doping

Moscow, March 21 (IANS) Four-time world champion Russian swimmer Yulia Yefimova said on Monday she would challenge her suspension for suspected doping.

“Currently we are preparing for hearings of my case. We intend to prove that I have not violated the anti-doping rules,” Yefimova said in a video address to her fans, reports Xinhua.

Last week, the All-Russian Swimming Federation (ARSF) confirmed that the International Swimming Federation (FINA) has temporarily suspended the sportswoman from competitions due to possible anti-doping rule violation after testing positive for use of banned drug Meldonium.

Meldonium, also known as Mildronate, is used to treat various heart diseases, has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from this year.

Yefimova said she did not receive any warnings that Meldonium had been included in the banned list from January, neither from Russian or from foreign organisations, in electronic or oral form.

“It was legal the last time I used Meldonium for medical reasons,” she said, adding that she was surprised that tests conducted more than a month later showed presence of the drug.

However, ARSF president Vladimir Salnikov denied the statement.

“The Federation has notified in advance all athletes in accordance with the rules. The information has also been published on the official website of the Federation,” Salnikov said on Monday.

More than 10 Russian athletes, including tennis star Maria Sharapova, have so far been tested positive for Meldonium.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the government to improve the efficiency of doping prevention and to toughen penalties for violations of anti-doping rules.

Yefimova said she was optimistic about her fate and would continue training in expectation that she would be able to participate in the Rio Olympic Games.

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