Efimova free to compete in Rio after FINA drops drugs charges

Jun 20, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Yulia Efimova (RUS) checks her time after completing the final qualifying heat of the Women 200M Breaststroke during the morning session at the George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara, Calif. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova is free to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio after the World Swimming Federation (FINA) dropped doping charges against her, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

“We received an official notification from FINA just an hour ago that all the charges [against Efimova] had been dropped. She is free to compete. No punishment has followed,” her lawyer, Artem Patsev, told the R-Sport news agency.

Efimova, a bronze medallist from the 2012 London Olympics and a four-time world champion announced in March that a doping test from February had shown she had taken the banned drug meldonium. She was subsequently banned from all competitions.

Patsev said that he was “expecting FINA to take this decision”, especially after the 24-year-old breaststroke specialist had a temporary suspension lifted in May.

She was added to Russia’s roster for the games in June.

“We are all really happy for Yulia. She will join up with the team in Rio de Janeiro on 1-2 August,” Patsev concluded.

Meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned substances as of January 1, 2016. However, after a wave of positive tests, WADA admitted in April that positive tests could be overturned due to a lack of clear scientific information on how long the drug takes to be excreted from the body.

Efimova was disqualified from swimming for 16 months in May 2014 after traces of the anabolic steroid DHEA, which speeds up metabolism and helps with weight loss, were found in her system at an out of competition test in Los Angeles in 2013.

Reporting By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy,; Editing by Neville Dalton