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Russian Swimming Champion Yefimova Vows To Fight Doping Charges

Russia's Yulia Yefimova waves after finishing in a women's 100m breaststroke heat at the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan.

Russian swimming champion Yulia Yefimova says she will fight charges she used the banned drug meldonium with the goal of competing this summer in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

In a statement on Russian state TV on March 21, Yefimova said she tested positive for the endurance-boosting drug last month because she had used it previously for medical reasons but had stopped taking it.

"I categorically reject the accusation of doping," she said. "At the current time, we are preparing for a hearing into my case. We intend to have the charge completely dismissed and to prove that I didn't break anti-doping rules, and I continue to train with the hope that I will compete at the Olympic Games in Rio."

The four-time gold medalist in breaststroke at the world championships is considered to be Russia's top Olympic medal hope in swimming.

Yefimova, 23, who won bronze in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics, could be banned for life if found guilty of the doping offense -- the second of her career.

She was suspended and stripped of five medals after testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP