Russian World Champion Breaststroker Efimova Allegedly Tests Positive for DHEA

According to Russian newspaper Vedomosti, Russian breaststroker Yuliya Efimova, a two-time World Champion, world record holder and Olympic bronze medalist, has tested positive for prescription steroid and banned substance DHEA.

The positive sample came in October during an out-of-competition test, approximately four weeks after a dominating performance at the FINA World Championships where Efimova won the 50m and 200m breaststroke, with the former being in world record time.

Efimova is no stranger to international swimming; she repped the Russians in Beijing in 2008 and also won a bronze medal in the 200m in London in 2012. Efimova trains with fellow Russians Vladimir Morozov and Nikita  under Dave Salo at the powerhouse USC Trojans program based out of Southern California.

The official statement from Vitaly Mutko – the Russian Sports Minister – is to treat the report “with caution.”

[blockquote source=”Vitaly Mutko, Russian Sports Minister“]This sort of information should come out after a decision by the responsible disciplinary bodies. In high-level sport there are always many problems related to health, the treating of athletes, the application. There can be some kind of nuances in every athlete’s life.[/blockquote]

For any kind of punishment to be levied a B-sample would also have to come back positive. Her worlds results would presumably remain intact, as only the results since the infraction are stricken. That being said, in the time after the test in question was taken she won over $50,000 on the FINA World Cup circuit. That money (and medals) would have to be forfeited, in addition to a subsequent ban.

The timing could not be worse for the Russians as they are set to host the most expensive Olympics on record with the Sochi Games set to begin in three weeks time. If this test is confirmed, Efimova will be another in a litany of positive doping tests to come out of Russia over the past year, and perhaps more distressingly for the Russian swim program, the fourth positive from the swim squad that was sent to London in 2012.

DHEA – What Is It?

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands. It’s reported to increase lean body mass, and decrease body fat.

The substance might be familiar to sporting fans – cyclists Tyler Hamilton and Tom Zirbel, NBA stars O.J. May and Rashad Lewis and sprinter Lashawn Merritt all tested positive for DHEA at various points. Merritt was handed arguably the most punishing penalty of the group, being banned from athletic competition for 21 months. (In comparison, Rashad Lewis was suspended for 10 games for his infraction.)

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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