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Saturday, June 13, 2015

You Can Swim, But You Cannot Hide (Drug Use)

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) was requested by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to modify the results of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim due to the use of illegal substance by Ukraine's Olga Beresnyeva from the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Beresnyeva's answers to the IOC related to her use of an illegal substance are detailed here. Her comments received via email include the following:

On April 17th 2015, Beresnyeva submitted:

- She admits to having committed the anti-doping rule violation and accepts responsibility for her “fatal mistake”
- She “accepts full responsibility” and “regret[s] that it happened”
- She describes, in chronological order, her career as an athlete and more particularly as “one of the leading athletes in Ukrainian national team”
- She confirms her understanding of what an anti-doping rule violation consists of and claims that for the duration of her sports career, she had “always [kept] straight” against taking prohibited substances and had always, through constant testing by different Anti-Doping Organisations, tested negative
- During the year 2011, she noticed that her general condition along with her sport results started decreasing and she did not want to miss her “last chance” to compete in the Olympic Games. She decided to use prohibited substances “somewhere near the end of June 2011”
- Being a “sports rehabilitation specialist” and with the support of information gathered on the internet, she was able to obtain “the substance” (NB: presumably rEPO)
- She declares to be ready to participate in any anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs

On May 21st 2015, Beresnyeva provided the following answers to a subsequent inquiry by the IOC:

- She had done a Google search for the word “Erythropoietin” and found that a medicine called “EPREX”, containing such substance, could be easily ordered online
- She did not remember exactly which online supplier she had used, but ordered from the cheapest available without needing a prescription
- The product EPREX was delivered to the Athlete’s home by courier, which, according to the Athlete, is a standard delivery channel for medication in the Athlete’s country
- Nobody else was aware that she was using a prohibited substance
- She did not have the product with her in London during the 2012 Olympic Games
- The substance was taken first mid June 2012 until end of July 2012, once a week (in accordance with the instructions included with the product)
- She had never otherwise taken any other prohibited substance

As a result of her admission and the testing results found by the IOC, her 7th place finish may be deleted from the official record leaving the results as follows:

GOLD Eva Risztov (HUN) 1:57:38.2
SILVER Haley Anderson (USA) 1:57:38.6
BRONZE Martina Grimaldi (ITA) 1:57:41.8
4. Keri-Anne Payne (GBR) 1:57:42.2
5. Angela Maurer (GER) 1:57:52.8
6. Ophelie Aspord (FRA) 1:58:43.1
7. Olga Beresnyeva (UKR) 1:58:44.4
8. Erika Villaecija (ESP) 1:58:49.5
9. Jana Pechanova (CZE) 1:58:52.8
10. Anna Guseva (RUS) 1:58:53.0
11. Melissa Gorman (AUS) 1:58:53.1
12. Karla Sitic (CRO) 1:58:54.7
13. Yumi Kida (JPN) 1:58:59.1
14. Yanel Pinto (VEN) 1:59:05.8
15. Natalia Charlos (POL) 1:59:58.7
16. Heidi Gan (MAS) 2:00:45.0
17. Cecilia Biagioli (ARG) 2:01:02.2
18. Zsofia Balazs (CAN) 2:01:17.8
19. Swann Oberson (SUI) 2:01:38.0
20. Wing Yung Natasha Terri Tang (HKG) 2:02:33.4
21. Lizeth Rueda Santos (MEX) 2:02:46.1
22. Marianna Lymperta (GRE) 2:04:26.5
Poliana Okimoto (BRA) DNF
Jessica Roux (RSA) DNF
Yanqiao Fang (CHN) DNS

Under the IOC Anti-Doping Rules that were used in London during the 2012 Olympic Games, athletes were subject to drug tests performed before and after their events. After each event, the IOC carried out tests on the top five finishers plus two athletes at random [among the 25 athletes in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim]. The IOC performed a total of 5,062 tests – 4,005 urine and 1,057 blood - whose samples it will keep for 10 years - and will retest as new testing methods are developed.

Beresnyeva was among one of those caught and disciplined after one of her tests was found positive for the presence of recombinant erythropoietin (rEPO).

Why would an athlete take rEPO? EPO is a protein hormone produced by the kidney and increases oxygen-carrying capacity - a key factor for improving athletic performance in a 2-hour race like the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim. To learn more about the benefits of rEPO, read here.

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