Yulia Efimova Comments on Lilly King, 2016 Olympics and Doping Criticism

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 11:  Yulia Efimova of Russia competes in the Women's 200m Breaststroke Final on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova took exception to the comments of United States swimmer Lilly King, who said Efimova shouldn't have been allowed to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro amid the country's doping scandal.

"Why are they discussing only Russians, not another country?" Efimova said, per Martin Rogers of USA Today. "I mean, it is not only Russia.

"[King] is young. She doesn't know sometimes how life is going on. I hope that she changes—changes her mind and everything."

After King won the 100-meter breaststroke over Efimova, she took a shot at the Russian.

"It's incredible, just winning a gold medal and knowing I did it clean," she said, per Christine Brennan of USA Today.

That comment came after the swimmers wagged fingers at one another the night prior.

"You're shaking your finger No. 1, and you've been caught for drug cheating," King said on the NBC broadcast, according to Brennan. "I'm just not, you know, not a fan."

Efimova, meanwhile, wasn't a fan of the back and forth.

"It was war," she told Rogers. "It was like a nightmare. This completion [of the program] is a relief because I love racing, but this was more like a war. It was awful. She is young, but she should understand more."

King didn't seem to regret her comments, per Brennan:

It was something that needed to be brought up, in my mind. I wasn't even planning on speaking out. It just kind of happened. But I'm glad I did, because it is something that needs to be noticed, and it's something that needs to be dealt with, and I just happened to be the person that decided to come out, so I'm super glad I did it.

Efimova would have preferred the pair talk privately.

"She never talked with me," she said of King, according to Rogers. "She said many things in the press conference but nothing at all to me."

The war of words added a fascinating storyline to the swimming competition and created a compelling rivalry between King and Efimova. King, however, was hardly the only person to speak out against Russia's state-sponsored doping program.

British heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill also commented on the situation, per Amanda Davies and Claire Bloomfield of CNN:

I think although a lot of athletes were aware that something wasn't quite right, we didn't realize it was on this scale. For the athletes that train so hard, train day in and day out and come to compete as clean athletes, it's just really frustrating to know that some people aren't doing it properly.

I suppose now more people feel like voicing their opinion, which is really good for the sport, and hopefully we can start making progress to clear up the whole sport in its entirety.

Russia's entire track and field team was barred from competition in Rio, along with other athletes from the country. Clearly, King felt Efimova should have joined them.

    

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