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2 Aug, 2021 15:01

USA star accused of being ‘brainwashed’ and ‘a product of the media’ after appearing to claim Russians ‘should not be’ at Olympics

USA star accused of being ‘brainwashed’ and ‘a product of the media’ after appearing to claim Russians ‘should not be’ at Olympics

American swimmer Lilly King has implied that Russians should have been banned from the Olympics rather than copping "a slap on the wrist" from doping chiefs, backing up pal Ryan Murphy's suspicions that races had not "been clean".

A triple medalist at the Tokyo Games who has described herself as "so nasty", King sat beside Murphy while he made controversial remarks about his rivals, saying that swimming had "probably" not "been clean" after taking the 200m backstroke silver medal behind Russian swimmer Evgeny Rylov and being beaten by Kliment Kolesnikov in the 100m backstroke.

Murphy later clarified those comments by insisting that he had answered a question "honestly" and did feel there is doping in swimming. King, though, has been much more pointed.

"There are a lot of people here who should not be here," she told reporters, appearing to clearly refer to Russia having to compete under a neutral flag under the Russian Olympic Comittee (ROC) banner at the Games. 

"I wasn’t racing anyone from a country who should have been banned and instead got a slap on the wrist and rebranded their national flag, so I personally wasn’t as affected. But Ryan was."

200m breaststroke silver medalist and 100m breaststroke bronze winner King has taken aim at Russian athletes before, targeting Yulia Efimova, who had completed a 16-month doping ban, while she was in the pool at the 2016 Games.

“You’re shaking your finger, number one, and you’ve been caught for drug cheating," she told Efimova in an interview with NBC at the time. "I’m just not a fan."

King is rarely afraid to hold back. “I’m so nasty,” she told Yahoo Sports before the start of the Games. “I really enjoy watching people crumble under pressure. I know that’s, like, really evil of me. But it’s kind of fun when you’re in it.”

The 24-year-old's latest outburst comes after ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov quipped that while critics "supposed that as a matter of fact our athletes can’t compete without doping", Russian athletes at Tokyo 2020 "proved the opposite not just with words but with their deeds and results."

Former boxing champion and member of the Russian State Duma Nikolai Valuev called King "brainwashed".

"In one way or another, we all read [our own] national press more: she reads the New York Times in her English, and we read our newspapers and publications," he told Championat.

"For the most part, Russians do not follow the New York Times or any other American internet resources.

"Understand that the ideas of a person who has been brainwashed may be appropriate. I don’t want to blame her – maybe she is a product of the media office that did a 'good' job at one time.

"The fact that the vast majority of Russian athletes are not doping is also a fact. The small percentage [who are] is not much more than the percentage of foreign athletes who use doping.

"But the difference is that, for the sake of the political conjuncture, Russia is subjected to obstruction and corresponding condemnation in the media, and the doping athletes who are caught by WADA [from] the other [countries] are simply quietly removed from the run and fired without a scandal."

Also on rt.com ‘He apologized’: Russian swimmer Rylov plays down Olympic doping row after US rival’s remarks about ‘not clean’ competition