Yulia Efimova

Evidence of “systematic” doping has been unearthed in Russian swimming, a report in British newspaper The Times claimed on Wednesday.

Russian athletes have been banned from international competition after a World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) report uncovered evidence of state-sponsored doping and The Times said the situation in Russian swimming was similar.

It claimed that Sergei Portugalov, the doctor said to be the mastermind behind doping in Russian athletics, had pushed swimmers on Russia’s national team to take performance-enhancing drugs.

The paper cited a witness who testified that “pills and medicines” were available by the side of the pool during one competition in Moscow.

Other allegations are that two Russian swimmers were not punished after testing positive for the banned blood-booster EPO and that witnesses were “terrified” of going public due to the fear of reprisals.

Quoted by The Times, WADA president Craig Reedie said: “If these allegations are correct, they will certainly concern Wada and we will examine them in detail.”

The paper said that neither Portugalov, the Russian swimming federation nor swimming’s world governing body FINA had responded to questions.

Russian swimmers have produced over 40 failed drug tests over the past decade — more than any other country.

Last week, four-time world breaststroke champion Yuliya Efimova was suspended from competition for alleged doping, amid reports she now faces a life ban for using the illegal substance meldonium. – Agence France-Presse

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