Russian Olympic Silver Medalist Svetlana Varganova Arrested on Drug Charges in India

Photo Courtesy: Competitor

Russian Olympic Silver Medalist Svetlana Varganova Arrested on Drug Charges in India

Svetlana Varganova, a silver medalist at the 1980 Olympics representing the Soviet Union, has been arrested in India as part of a drug sting.

Varganova is a former world-record holder in the women’s 200 breaststroke, the event at which she won silver in the 1980 Olympics. She also won the FINA World Championship in the event in 1982.

Varganova and another Russian were arrested in the western Indian city of Goa as part of an investigation by the country’s Narcotics Control Bureau, according to a report from India Today. Another “local resident” was involved in what the NCB termed a Russian drug cartel, with the second Russian man, identified only as a former police officer named Andre, as the supposed “kingpin.” The NCB seized LSD, cocaine, hydroponically grown marijuana plants and other drug paraphernalia as well as cash in foreign currencies and fake documents.

Varganova won a silver medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics in the women’s 200 breaststroke. Just 15 years old at the time, she had led the race through 150 meters before being overtaken by her countrywoman, Lina Kaciusyte by .07 seconds in 2:29.54, an Olympic record.

Varganova had set the Olympic mark in prelims at 2:29.77. Fellow Soviet swimmer Yuliya Bogdanova finished bronze, in a Games that featured many Western nations boycotting over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the previous year.

A native of St. Petersburg, Varganova was part of a golden age of Soviet breaststroke, with USSR swimmers holding the world record in the 200 breast for nine years from 1976-85. Varganova owned it for one week in 1979 when she went 2:31.09 in a meet in Minsk on March 30. That cut .33 seconds off Kaciusyte’s world record, only for her to trounce it a week later by going 2:28.36 in East Germany. That time held until 1985.

She set the World Championships record in 1982 in Berlin, West Germany twice, first at 2:30.12 in prelims, then 2:28.82 to win the final. She was a second clear of East German swimmer Ute Geweniger. It would end up as her career best time. She added a bronze in the 400 medley relay. She won one Soviet title (in the 100 in 1982) among five total medals at national championships. She became a coach in her hometown after his swimming career ended.

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