MOSCOW (AP) _ Three top Russian swimmers, including an Olympic gold medalist and a world record holder, have tested positive for steroids and will not participate in next month’s world championships.
Vladimir Pyshnenko, Natalia Mescherjakova and Olga Kochetkova will not swim at the championships in Perth, Australia, next month even if they escape a suspension by the international swimming federation, Gennady Aleshin, head of the Russian Swimming Federation, told the ITAR-Tass news agency.
He expressed regret that ``such famous swimmers must end their careers in such an unpleasant way.″
Federation officials declined to elaborate today, and Aleshin, who also is a vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee, could not be reached for comment.
An official who declined to give her name said the final decision on the roster for the championships _ expected to be announced Friday _ has not yet been made.
Aleshin told ITAR-Tass that the three tested positive for anabolic steroids at a training camp in Cyprus in October.
Andrei Zelenyayev, the coach for the three, called the incident a provocation and said he wanted to appeal to an international arbitration court. The report did not elaborate.
Aleshin said the swimmers may have taken improper medicines without realizing the implications.
Pyshnenko, 27, and Mescherjakova, 25, are freestylers, while Kochetkova, 18, is a backstroker.
Pyshnenko swam on the relay team which set the world record in winning the 4 X 200 freestyle at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Mescherjakova is European champion in the 50-meter freestyle, while Kochetkova helped her medley relay team win silver in the 4x100 at this year’s European championships.