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Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova banned 16 months for doping

Yulia Efimova

Russia’s Julia Efimova after having the women’s 200m breast stroke final during the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Herning, Denmark, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Polfoto/Jens Dresling) DENMARK OUT


World champion breaststroker Yulia Efimova received a backdated 16-month doping suspension Tuesday after she tested positive for a steroid last fall.

Efimova, 22, could have received a longer ban that could have kept her out of the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. Now, it appears she will be eligible for the meet, the biggest swimming competition before the Rio Olympics, as one of the host country’s biggest stars.

She said she will not appeal the ban, according to, citing the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

"[Appealing] requires energy, time, and most importantly, money,” Efimova said. “Moreover, I know that I made a mistake. The main thing is to start [working] for the World Championships in Kazan and the Olympic Games.”

Efimova won 200m breaststroke bronze at the 2012 Olympics, behind U.S. gold medalist Rebecca Soni, who is now retired.

Efimova took gold in the 200m breast and the 50m breast, breaking the world record in the latter, at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. She also won silver in the 100m breast behind world record breaker Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania, her competition for world’s best breaststroker with Soni out of the picture.

Efimova’s urine sample from an out-of-competition test on Oct. 31 was found to have the steroid DHEA. She said it came from a supplement she bought at a GNC store in California, where she was training, and that a salesperson assured her the supplement was “doping-free,” though DHEA was clearly listed as an ingredient on the label. Efimova said she didn’t know what DHEA was or that it was prohibited at the time.

Efimova also said her coach, Dave Salo, is adamantly opposed to the use of supplements. Salo also coached U.S. Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy, who qualified for the 2008 Olympics but had to withdraw after a failed drug test that she believed was due to a tainted supplement. Efimova said she will not use supplements in the future.

The suspension was backdated to Oct. 31, 2013, and will run through Feb. 28, 2015, five months before the World Championships in Kazan.

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