London 2012 champion Meilutyte retires from swimming at 22 after missing drugs tests

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London Olympic swimming champion Ruta Meilutyte has announced her retirement from the sport after missing three drugs tests.

The Lithuanian trained and studied in Plymouth when she won 100m breaststroke gold in 2012 at the age of 15.

Now 22, the former world and European champion was facing the prospect of a 12-24-month ban having claimed full responsibility for the missed tests.

“I am ready to start a new phase of life,” she said in a statement.

Anti-doping officials were unable to make contact with Meilutyte on three separate occasions over the last 13 months.

She has admitted to struggling with depression in recent years and finished seventh in the 100m breaststroke at the Rio 2016 Olympics after suffering a broken elbow in the build-up.

Since those Games she has left the UK and trained in her homeland as well as Australia, Turkey and the USA, but will now return to education and pursue a career outside of the sport.

“Thanks to swimming, I experienced a life I had never thought about,” she said. “I had the opportunity to see a large part of the world, to get to know and work with wonderful people.

“(Now) I want to experience simple things, grow, and better understand myself and the world around me.”

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Plymouth Leander head coach John Rudd said before the 2012 Olympics that Meilutyte could reach the 100m breaststroke final but she surpassed even his expectations, winning one of only two golds for Lithuania at the London Games.

Shortly before she won gold in a world-record time at the World Championships in 2013, Rudd added that “she can become the greatest female breaststroker of all time”.

And although she continued to medal at major championships after seeing her Rio preparations disrupted, Meilutyte struggled to get back to the level she reached before the injury.

She still holds the world record for 100m breaststroke (short course) of one minute 2.36 seconds, which she set in October 2013.

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BBC Sport – Swimming

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