Ryan Murphy, who took home gold medals for his backstroke ability in the 2016 Olympics, said the 200-meter backstroke race on Friday “probably wasn’t clean” after losing to Russia’s Evgeny Rylov.
Swimmer Ryan Murphy took home the silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke Friday in a race he said “probably wasn’t clean.”
Murphy made the comment after losing out on the gold to Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). Murphy came into the race as the defending gold medal champion after his win in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
“I’ve got about 15 thoughts. Thirteen of them would get me into a lot of trouble,” Murphy began, according to The Wall Street Journal. “It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean.”
The ROC hit back at Murphy over Twitter.
“How unnerving our victories are for some of our colleagues,” the ROC’s official account wrote. “Yes, we are here at the Olympics. Absolutely right. Whether someone likes it or not.”
“The old barrel organ started the song about Russian doping again,” the message continued. “English-language propaganda, oozing verbal sweat in the Tokyo heat. Through the mouths of athletes offended by defeats. We will not console you. Forgive those who are weaker. God is their judge. And for us — an assistant.”
Russia’s national team is banned from the Olympics over a blood-doping scandal at the 2014 winter Olympics, though the sanction is largely performative as all Russian athletes are still allowed to compete under the banner of the ROC. The Russian flag and anthem are both banned under the doping sanctions, though the ROC is allowed to play works from the Russian composer Tchaikovsky.
Murphy later said that he was not accusing Rylov his fellow Russian swimmer, Kliment Kolesnikov, of cheating. He walked back his remark during a press conference alongside the Russian swimmer and the bronze medal finalist in the race, Britain’s Luke Greenbank.
“I need to be clear,” Murphy said, according to Fox News. “My intention is not to make any allegations here. Congratulations to Evgeny, congratulations to Luke. They both did an incredible job. They’re both very talented swimmers. They both train real hard and they’ve got great technique.”
Rylov asserted that he won the race fairly.
“I have always been for clean competition,” the Russian swimmer said through a translator. “I’m tested. I fill out all the forms. I’m for clean sport. I’ve been devoting my whole life to this [sport].”
Three days before Murphy’s loss in the 200-meter, he came in third in the 100-meter backstroke behind both Russian competitors. Kolesnikov later appeared to mock the American swimmer in a post-race press conference, according to the Journal.
Murphy was dominant in the backstroke in 2016, winning both the 100 and 200-meter races, as well as winning a gold medal in the 4×100-meter mixed medley relay. Murphy set world records in the 200-meter backstroke and in the first leg of the relay.
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