FINA asks newspaper for Russia swimming doping evidence

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Swimming’s world governing body wants British daily The Times to share evidence backing up claims of widespread doping in Russian swimming.

FINA pledged on Wednesday to investigate any allegations “substantiated by evidence and which have not already been addressed.”

The newspaper alleged in Wednesday’s edition that doping and cover-ups took place over several years in Russian swimming. Some claims were linked to sports doctor Sergei Portugalov, who the World Anti-Doping Agency wants banned for life after investigating a doping conspiracy in Russian athletics last year.

The Times‘ reports quoted unidentified witnesses who suggested their fear of being named as whistleblowers.

“If I talk to you, I’ll be under the next train at Moscow’s main station, like the rest of them who knew too much,” the newspaper reported quoting one swimming official.

One allegation cited two Russian swimmers whose positive tests for EPO, a banned blood-boosting hormone, in 2009 were covered up. Russia’s now-discredited anti-doping agency, RUSADA, was “unable or unwilling” to pursue the case because the doctor named as supplying the drug had police connections, the report said.

The Times reported swim coaches saying they were aware of open distribution of medications at Russian training centers and competitions.

FINA said in a statement that it had “absolutely zero tolerance for the use of performance-enhancing substances in swimming.”

“However, it should be noted that while FINA is not aware of any concrete evidence of systemic doping in Russian swimming, we have taken a particularly robust approach to our anti-doping procedures in relation to Russia and Russian competitions, in light of WADA’s recent [athletics] investigation,” the swim body said.

FINA has previously been criticized for its close ties to Russia, after giving President Vladimir Putin its highest award months before Kazan hosted the 2015 World Championships.

Since the WADA inquiry report was published in November — and the allegedly corrupt Moscow laboratory had its accreditation revoked — FINA has removed samples taken from swimmers at Kazan to be stored in Barcelona, Spain.

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