Top Russian swimmer faces lifetime ban for doping

The Russian doping scandal is steadily expanding beyond the country's banned track and field program.

Hours after President Vladimir Putin acknowledged the need for broad reform, authorities said swimmer Yulia Efimova -- a medal favorite for the 2016 Summer Olympics -- has been cited for a second doping violation.

The 23-year-old breaststroke specialist, a world champion and previous Olympic medalist, now faces a lifetime ban.

“It’s obvious that our national anti-doping legislation needs serious improvement,” Putin said on Wednesday, according to the Tass news agency. “I am asking the government to work on the question of raising the effectiveness of the national fight against doping.”

Russian media has reported that Efimova tested positive for meldonium, a banned substance that numerous athletes in the country -- including tennis star Maria Sharapova -- have been caught using in recent weeks.

The entire Russian track and field program has been banned from international competition following an international report that alleged systemic cheating among athletes, coaches and medical staff.

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World