Rusada, the Russian anti-doping agency, has spent the week saving the Russian swim federation's bacon: three women swimmers have been suspended this week, while a fourth received a warning - but the fact that the agency reported the cases means that Russia's positive tests will not count against the nation as a whole.
Under rule DC12.1, four positives from one nation within a 12 month period results in the FINA member federation being suspended in its entirety for 24 months. However, the rule is waived provided that national federations or agencies report their cases to FINA.
All four women involved tested positive for the same stimulant, through the degree of penalty varies in in each case. They were caught at nationals in Volgograd, the home city of Vice-President of the Russian swim fed Victor Avdienko.
Ksenia Moskvina, 23-year-old European s/c 100m backstroke record holder, was removed for six years for a second doping offence after testing positive for a stimulant at Russian nationals last November - on the back of a first offence of 'no show' on three occasions.
In a separate case, Rusada reports that 19-year-old Yekaterina Andreyeva has been banned for 18 months for testing positive on the same occasion in November after winning the 100m medley at nationals. Andreyeva was a silver medallist at the first youth Olympic Games in 2010.
Today, Natalia Lovtsova, a 24-year-old relay swimmer for Russia at London 2012, joined the hall of shame after being suspended for two and a half years. The cases have yet to make it to the official count of FINA, while no details of coaches, doctors and/or others who were party to the cheating alleged by Rusada have been named.
“The Russian Swimming Federation has banned Lovtsova for a violation of the anti-doping code for two and a half years from November 30, 2012,” the agency stated on its website, without specifying the specific nature of the offence.
In a fourth case, Dariya Ustinova, just 14 and a talented backstroke swimmer, was issued with a warning by Rusada. It is believed that her age is the reason for the warning, the focus now on those responsible for providing a young junior athlete banned substances.
We understand that at least two of the swimmers involved attended a training camp in Volgograd just before the national championships at which they tested positive.
A bad week for Russian swimming, led by Vladimir Salnikov, the president of the body and former Olympic 1500m free champion (1980, 1988), who must now add to his "to-do" list: "Urgent: Spring Clean".