Yulia Efimova Says She’s Innocent; Claims She Stopped Taking Drug Before Banned Date

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva


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Last week, news broke that Yuliya Efimova tested positive for the banned substance meldonium and had been temporarily suspended by the Russian Swimming Federation.

Today, Efimova went public for the first time claiming that she stopped taking the drug prior to the January addition of meldonium to the banned list and that her positive test came because the drug remained in her system.

Translation thanks to Maria Dobysheva.

Dear friends!

You’ve already heard I tested positive for a banned substance. That’s true. In February, the test I had in L.A. was positive for meldonium. I’m sorry you didn’t hear the news from myself. Someone leaked confidential information to the media.

I’m sorry I caused my fans, my loved ones and my sponsors such major negative emotions. I’m a pro athlete and responsible for what I take into my system. Now I want to reveal some facts to inform you what has happened.

First of all – I wasn’t warned that meldonium has been on the banned list since January. No one warned me – nor Russian neither international bodies did. Neither vocal nor via email.

Secondly – the last time I took meldonium was due to a doctor’s order and when it was legal. I made sure it was legal and read the description before treatment. Why it appeared in my system months after I stopped taking it, experts are figuring out now.

Next – In my past, I had an accident and lost a year and a half of my career because of my negligence. Since then, I’m in a full control of what I take. And I can guarantee that all the meds and treatments I get are fully legal.

I deny that I’m a drug cheat. I and [my crew] are preparing for legal hearings and we will do our best to prove I didn’t cheat.

Also,  I will keep training with hopes I’ll be in Rio.



Efimova, who already served a 16-month ban for a positive test for DHEA steroids, could face a lifetime ban after what is being reported to have been an in-competition positive test.

“The Federation is aware that Efimova tested positive for meldonium,” the Russian swimming federation stated through a spokesperson.

This is not likely the last Russian swimmer to be named as one of the 100 cases that have tested positive for meldonium. There could be a lot more Russian swimmers named if rumors Swimming World has heard turn out to be true.

the Russian Swimming Federation confirmed Efimova’s temporary suspension, and pointed to the fact that many Russians swimmers have trained outside of Russia as the reason for the positive tests.

“In connection with the publication appeared in the media concerning Yulia Efimova, All-Russian Swimming Federation informs that it has received from the International Federation of FINA documents confirming the temporary suspension from competition athletes in connection with a possible anti-doping rule violation.

In order to obtain information with the explanation for this situation, the President of the WFTU, Vladimir Salnikov will meet soon with leaders FGBU “Center of sports preparation of national teams of Russia” and the Ministry of Sports of Russia. In September 2015, according to the approved individual plans, a number of swimmers was sent for training abroad. Ensuring the preparation of this group of swimmers has been fully taken FGBU “Center athletic training teams of Russia” and was appointed curator of the official of the group Sergey Ilyin.”

Efimova swims for the Trojan Swim Club in Southern California here in the United States.

“I am obviously disappointed if the reports are true,” Trojan Swim Club head coach Dave Salo told Swimming World. “Since coming to the United States to train there is an awareness that anyone training in the USA will be subject to regular testing unlike the circumstances almost anywhere else in the world. Yulia, like everybody else in my Trojan Swim Club, are subject to testing often by USADA/WADA on a nearly weekly basis.

This time around, Efimova is one of nearly 100 cases of athletes nailed for testing positive for meldonium since the drug moved from being controlled to prohibited this year.  The most visible case being tennis star Maria Sharapova, who failed a drug test for meldonium at the Australian Open.

Meldonium has been said to have been taken by Russian athletes as much as Vitamin C, according Olympic figure skating champion Evgeni Plushenko on the Russian-24 broadcast network

Efimova is an Olympic medal favorite this year.  She’s the top ranked swimmer in the world in the women’s 100-meter breast with a 1:05.70 from the Arena Pro Swim Series stop in Orlando. She’s also ranked second in the world in the 200-meter breast with a 2:21.41 from that same meet.

Efimova already lost several world records as well as European championship victories from her previous suspension.

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Julie Bryan
8 years ago

??? really! In context taken like vitamin C? But they all say it’s for heart problems or other health issues! Funny how they are all on the same drug! And they are professional athletes it’s part of their job to check regularly the updated list! No excuses for cheating

8 years ago

How are people acquiring this if they live in the US? Isnt it illegal to bring a druginto the country that is not USDA approved? Or do you just go home, take it and come back?Wasn’t this drug on WADA list in September?I guess this is the Sharapova defense…again.

Matteo Forni
8 years ago

Out forever. And interdiction also to see sport’s events, because this person also seeing don’t understand the sport’s valours.

Stephanie Jane
8 years ago

Once a cheat always a cheat… nothing other than a lifetime ban should be considered.

Louis-Alexandre Anastasiou

Matthieu Guillemette

Maria Dobysheva
Maria Dobysheva
8 years ago

It’s not forbidden in U.S. and you’re not going to jail for taking it if that was what you meant. By “illegal” they mean that meldonium manufacturer don’t have a license to distribute and market it in U.S. Any adult is free to get it in a country where its legal, take it to U.S. for personal needs and use it for themselves. No, it’s not on WADA list since September. It’s banned since January but WADA and governing bodies widely informed about upcoming ban since September.

8 years ago

Funny when it came up with regards to Maria it was said to have been on WADA list since September noting that the official ban was effective January 2016 giving plenty of notice to stop taking it and get it out of your system

8 years ago
Reply to  Maureen

Ok, sorry, saw you acknowledged September but why no knowledge of the upcoming ban on the drug? Does she not have a team to help her?

Maria Dobysheva
Maria Dobysheva
8 years ago
Reply to  Maureen

The problem with meldonium is there’s no modern research on how long it remains in your body after you finished treatment. Description made in 70s when medication was invented says it’s a couple of days and no one questioned it till now because meldonium was legal. Now it raised huge controversy among experts and scientists about how long it remains in your system. Many experts and doctors think it has an ability to affect your samples for much longer – maybe months – and WADA don’t have an answer for that question. They didn’t do research but now they maybe should.

Bill Bell
8 years ago

I would hate to see Yulia banned for life and hope that she ( and by inference, her coach, Dave Salo). But if she is indeed found to,have taken a banned substance from January 1 of this year onward then I think she should incurr the lifetime ban.

Let’s all sit back, take a couple of deep breaths and let WADA and/ or FINA or both decide on the aporoptiate course of action.

Rushing to judgement doesn’t do anyone any good — just ask Jessica Hardy.

8 years ago

Normally I’m one of the ‘hang em and flog em’ brigade when it comes to drugs but this and Sharapova and possibly a hundred more does raise red flags.

Are they all completely stupid or is it possible that more work needs to be done on effects like how long it it detectable after use?

Also, why on earth can’t wada or whoever publish these changes to lists of banned substances widely – both in general media where everyone can see it and by ‘acknowledge receipt’ email to all the athletes on their lists?

8 years ago

The comment by Salo that she assured him in December that she wasn’t taking it contradicted her statement that she didn’t know it was banned!

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