U.S. gold medallist Olympic swimmer Ryan Murphy on Sunday (August 1) said he was disappointed with how comments he made about doping following a silver finish earlier in the week were portrayed.
Murphy, fresh from finishing second in the 200m men’s backstroke and ceding the Olympic title he won in 2016 to Russian Evgeny Rylov, labelled the race as “probably not clean.”
He subsequently made clear he was not accusing any of his rivals on the podium, as a Russian journalist accused him of “ruining the best moment of Rylov’s life.”
When asked about the comments again at a news conference on Sunday, he said he believed doping was still a major issue in the sport.
“I think the world needs to do better in terms of fighting doping. I never mentioned a specific athlete. I never mentioned a specific country, and that’s how it was taken. And that is, that is disappointing to me that it was taken that way,” he said, adding that he, his girlfriend and his family had all received angry messages online in the wake of his original comments.
Murphy cited statements by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart and Brent Nowicki, formerly of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, that led him to believe doping was still an issue.
Murphy’s team mate, Lilly King, had a more pointed response, taking a dig at Russia, which is competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences.
“For me at least, I try not to think about that. But also, I wasn’t, you know, racing anyone from a country who should have been banned and instead got a slap on the wrist and a rebranding of their national flag. So I personally wasn’t as affected, but Ryan was,” she said before turning to Ryan and directly addressing him. “But I know I feel like that has tainted your experience. And for that, I’m so sorry.”
After Murphy’s comments on Friday, the Russian Olympic Committee hit back on Twitter labelling U.S. complaints as nothing more than sour grapes.
Murphy this week managed to win the bronze medal for the men’s 100m backstroke, the silver medal for the men’s 200m backstroke, and the gold medal for the men’s 4x100m medley relay.
King won the bronze medal for the women’s 100m breaststroke, silver medal for the women’s 200m breaststroke, and another silver for the women’s 4x100m medley relay.
Robert Finke won gold in two races: the men’s 800m freestyle and the men’s 1,500m freestyle.
Newcomer Regan Smith picked up the first Olympic medals of her young career. She won the bronze medal for the women’s 100m backstroke, silver medal for the women’s 200m butterfly, and another silver for the women’s 4x100m medley relay.
And the 19-year-old Minnesota native said it’s only the beginning.
“And hungry for more, I mean, coming out of this me, I just feel incredibly motivated, I’m extremely proud of my performances, but I think I know that I have a lot left in me. And I think that I have a lot more great years of my career ahead of me. And I’m just excited to get some good rest over these next few weeks and then put my head down and get back to work and see what’s ahead of me,” Smith said.
(Production: Nathan Frandino, Miguel Pereira)