Yulia Efimova of Russia won the 200-meter breaststroke at the Los Angeles Invitational on Sunday in her first competition since March, the same month she was provisionally suspended for a second career doping violation.
She won in 1 minute, 6.30 seconds, finishing 3.93 seconds ahead of the competition in the meet on the Southern California campus, where she had trained in recent years.
The 24-year-old swimmer, who has won four world titles and an Olympic bronze medal, was competing for the first time since a meet in Orlando, Florida, in early March. She swept the 100 (1:05.70) and 200 (2.21.41) breaststroke events there, posting the second-fastest times in the world this year in both.
Last week, the Russian Swimming Federation released a statement reaffirming that Efimova will be part of the country’s Olympic team that travels to Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 1. The federation said it received a letter from FINA, the sport’s world governing body, clearing Efimova to compete in the Olympics without restriction even after multiple positive tests for meldonium.
Efimova has professed her innocence. She is considered one of Russia’s top medal hopes in Rio.
Meldonium, the same substance found in tennis star Maria Sharapova’s sample at the Australian Open in January, is an endurance-boosting drug that was banned on Jan. 1.
Efimova, who won bronze in the 200 breast at the 2012 London Olympics, was stripped of five European championship medals after testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. Her ban that time was reduced from two years to 16 months after she argued that she had taken the substance by accident while trying to buy a legal supplement.
Efimova returned from that ban to win gold in the 100 breast at last year’s world championships in Kazan, Russia.