- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has been awarded with the International Swimming Federation’s highest honor despite a series of doping cases that could result in the country being suspended from competition.

The FINA Order is granted to “heads of state or individuals of high dignity who have achieved remarkable merit in the world of aquatics.”

The Russian city of Kazan will host next year’s FINA world championships.

FINA president Julio Maglione says Putin’s support of aquatics “greatly contributes to strengthen the fraternity between nations … in a spirit of peace and friendship.”

World record-holder Yuliya Efimova is one of more than a handful of Russian swimmers who have been banned for doping in the last two years.

FINA can ban a federation if four of its competitors in the same discipline commit doping offenses within 12 months of each other.

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