Russian Swimming Team Faces Ban

The sports minister of Russia has remarked that country's swimming team is on the verge of being suspended from international swimming competition following a series of positive doping tests.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

World record-holder Yuliya Efimova was banned last month for 16 months after testing positive for a banned anabolic androgenic steroid. Yuliya Efimova tested positive for the drug Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and it was reported that the positive test occurred out of competition in October, around the time of the FINA World Cup.  Efimova received a 16-month competition ban by FINA retroactive to October 31, 2013 and concluding next year on February 28. She also lost all results since October 31, 2013 that includes four European short course titles and four world records. Efimova will be eligible to complete in Kazan because her ban for testing positive for the steroid DHEA expires next February 28.

Two other Russian swimmers are serving suspensions after they failed drug tests and at least five others were banned mostly for domestic violations last year. In October, Sergei Makov tested positive for a steroid at a World Cup event in Moscow and Vitaliy Melnikov tested positive for EPO at the European short-course championships in Herning. The country may receive a national ban if there are three more positives caught by FINA between now and October. If the country is banned before next year's world swimming championships, the world championships would have to be moved under rules that put a restriction on member federations from competing with a fellow member serving a ban. The worst thing for Russia is that doping cases in the country have increased as it prepares to host world swimming championships in Kazan next year.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the number of breaches of anti-doping rules in the international arena is on the brink and added that one or two more breaches and the federation could be suspended altogether. The minister added that Russian Swimming Federation is one of “several” Russian sports bodies at risk of suspension over doping scandals though he did not name other bodies.

Russia is not currently in the category of member federations who receive a ban of two years if four of its competitors in the same discipline commit doping offences within 12 months, with certain exemptions, according to FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu. Marculescu said he and FINA have full confidence in ability of Russia to host the world championship. Referring to the Russian region where Kazan is located, Marculescu said the facilities are amazing and FINA is receiving a great support from the authorities of the Russian Federation and of the Republic of Tatarstan. He also remarked the personal commitment of Mutko, Russian Minister of Sport, and of Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan, are strong guarantees that FINA’s major event will be a success. The world championships will be held at venues from last year’s World University Games, including the Kazan Arena that will also serve as one of the stadiums for the 2018 World Cup.


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