Story at a glance:

  • Ryan Murphy, who lost two times at the Olympics to his Russian competitor, is accusing the 200-meter backstroke competition of being “unclean.”
  • Russia has a reputation for doping its athletes.
  • Murphy backtracked his statements, saying, “My intention is not to make any allegations here.”

Ryan Murphy, who lost two times at the Olympics to his Russian competitor for the gold medals, is accusing the 200-meter backstroke competition of being “not clean.”

Russia has a reputation for doping its athletes. The country is currently banned from the Olympics over its systemic doping abuses. 

After taking silver and bronze medals at the Tokyo  Games and Rio 2016 Games behind first-place winner Evgeny Rylov, Murphy called into question the integrity of the race, The Associated Press reported.


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In 2016, both Rylov and another Russian, Kliment Kolesnikov, defeated Murphy. This year, Murphy ultimately lost to Rylov again but won silver after beating Britain rival Luke Greenbank.

“It is a huge mental drain on me to hear I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean,” Murphy said. “That is what it is.”

Despite obviously questioning whether his opponents, specifically Rylov, were doping, he backtracked his statements, saying, “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.”

With his translator by his side, Rylov denied any allegations of doping and said that he does not think Murphy's frustrations were targeted towards him.

“I have always been for clean competition,” he 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).”

“Ryan has all the right to think the way he does and say what he does,” Rylov said. “He did not accuse me of anything. That’s why I don’t have anything against him.”

Since the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Russian athletes have faced scrutiny in competitions. Russia was barred from the last two Olympics, including the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, which referred Russian athletes as OAR — Olympic Athletes From Russia.

Representing the OAR, most Russian athletes are allowed to compete at Tokyo.

Some say the punishment for cheating was not good enough. 

Russian flags are banned and the national anthem can not be played during medal ceremonies, but the Russian athletes do wear their nation’s colors and have their music played by Russian composer Tchaikovsky.


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Published on Jul 30, 2021