Michael Phelps backed young team-mate Lilly King in speaking out against dope cheats after she vanquished drug-tainted Russian Yulia Efimova for Olympic 100m breaststroke gold on Monday.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of people speaking up more,” said 19-time Olympic gold medallist Phelps. “I think she’s right, something needs to be done.”
King, a 19-year-old first-time Olympian, had made it clear she didn’t think Efimova belonged in the pool after serving a 16-month ban in the wake of a 2013 positive test and a positive test this year for meldonium.
Plenty agreed as the 24-year-old world champion from Russia was showered with boos as she took to the blocks.
King led at the turn and repelled a late Efimova charge to win in an Olympic record of 1min 04.93sec, with the Russian second in 1:05.50. American Katie Miele was third in 1:05.69.
“I think it just proved that you can compete clean and still come out on top,” King said, adding that she had no regrets about her pre-race comments about Efimova.
“I’m actually glad I made a statement, and I ended up coming out on top in the race,” she said.
While King and Miele celebrated joyously together in the water, Efimova — who is also entered in the 200m breaststroke — hung on her lane rope before departing the pool deck.
She likened the reaction to her on the pool deck — almost unheard of at the Olympics where the “Olympic spirit” usually reigns — to the Cold War. “For me it’s very hard to swim today, this is like three weeks of crazy,” said Efimova, who broke down in tears facing journalists after the race.
China’s Sun Yang shook off controversy to win the 200m freestyle gold, cheered on by Chinese team-mates and supporters in the stands, one group of them seated behind a section of Aussies whose 400m free gold medallist Mack Horton this week branded Sun a drugs cheat — a reference to his three-month suspension in 2014 for a positive test for a banned stimulant.
Third at the 150m mark, Sun stormed past early leader Chad le Clos of South Africa to win in 1:44.65.
Le Clos settled for silver in 1:45.20 with American Conor Dwyer third.
Ryan Murphy gave the US a second gold on the night, extending America’s run of dominance in the men’s 100m backstroke, coming from fourth at the turn to win in an Olympic record of 51.97sec and become the sixth straight US Olympic champion. — AFP
Our Olympics correspondent adds:
Sajan Prakash and Shivani Kataria managed to avoid the last place in men’s 200-metre butterfly and women’s 200-metre freestyle respectively.
The 22-year-old Sajan clocked 1 minute 59.37 in finishing fourth ahead of Bradlee Ashby of New Zealand in the heats. Eventually, he placed 28th ahead of the Kiwi who finished last. Tamas Kenderesi of Hungary topped with a time of 1:54.73.
The 18-year-old Shivani clocked 2 minutes 09.30 seconds in placing 41st in a field of 42 swimmers. Interestingly, Shivani also placed second in the heats ahead of Kaya Adwoa Forson of Ghana, whom she beat in avoiding the wooden spoon in the overall list. Katie Ledecky of the US topped the qualification at 1:56.01.