USA Swimmer Lilly King Beats Russian Rival, Calls Her Out for Doping
American swimmer Lilly King wasn’t shy about voicing her opinions on her Russian rival, Yulia Efimova, at the Summer Olympics on Monday night.
Following a doping scandal that nearly had Efimova banned from the games, King went on to win the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke. Minutes after her record-breaking win, King took a moment to call out her rival, who came in second.
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“We can still complete clean and do well in the Olympic games — and that’s how it should be,” she said, adding that she hoped her win “made a statement” that you can still succeed while playing fair.
Earlier this year, Efimova tested positive for meldonium, a drug used to increase blood flow to the tissue. Since January 1, the substance has been outlawed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Efimova was initially banned, alongside six other Russian swimmers, who either tested positive or were named in an investigation into Russia’s state-sponsored doping scheme.
Efimova, who was previously suspended for 16 months after testing positive for traces of anabolic steroid DHEA, appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She was eventually found as having “no fault,” since WADA has yet to determine how long the drug might remain in person’s body after being outlawed in January.
The result was overturned and Efimova reentered the games on Saturday.
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King wasn’t the only one to take poorly to Efimova’s participation in the competition. Every time the 24-year-old Russian entered the Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, she was met with boos from the crowd.
At a news conference following the race, King and Efimova sat at opposite sides of the table, with bronze medal winner Katie Meili from Team USA in the middle. Efimova tried to hold back tears when asked about being booed. “I’m just happy I’m here and racing,” she said, adding she hoped people could “try to understand me.”
King and Meili, however, weren’t having it, as they both sat stone-faced. At one point in the interview, Efimova switched from English to her native Russian.
The moderator nudged a pair of headphones towards King so she could listen to the English translation. Both she and Meili declined to do so.