Doping rife in Russian swimming, claims newspaper probe

A new doping scandal has hit Russian sport, with a newspaper claiming the use of performance-enhancing drugs is systematic in swimming.

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The chair of WADA's athlete committee says the credibility of the Olympic Games is at stake after a newspaper investigation claimed to reveal systematic doping in Russian swimming.

In the week after Olympic breaststroke bronze medallist Yuliya Efimova revealed she had tested positive for meldonium, one newspaper published the details of its probe into drug use in the sport on Wednesday.

Among the claims made by the paper is that Dr Sergei Portugalov, named in the WADA independent commission's report into systemic doping in Russian athletics and accused of supplying athletes with banned substances, also pressed swimmers to take performance-enhancing drugs.

The Times said 23 swimmers have been handed suspensions since Portugalov became involved in the sport in 2009.

It also alleges a leading figure in Russian swimming told a coach there was "a pharmacological laboratory on site" for the team and that two swimmers who had tested positive for EPO never received punishment.

Russian athletes have already been suspended from competition following the independent commission's report.

But Beckie Scott, chair of the athlete committee, has called on the commission to extend its mandate to sports in Russia outside athletics, as well as other countries named in the report.

WADA president Craig Reedie has since said he will re-examine the report to determine if further investigations are needed.

And, asked about by The Times about the findings of its probe into swimming, Scott said: "It's fair to say there are some high-risk sports which need to looked at as a priority and swimming is one of them."

Quizzed if the relevant authorities would risk a political storm by banning Russia from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this year, she replied: "There's a real credibility issue at stake.

"You are for clean sport or you are not. It's pretty black and white. And if you let politics get in the way, or conflicting interests, then you aren't for clean sport.

"Is it realistic? I hope so. If we look at the evidence thus far, then just on that it is realistic."

Meanwhile, Reedie told The Times: "If these allegations are correct they will certainly concern WADA and we will examine them in detail."

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