Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova has spoken about the effect her American rival Lilly King’s doping criticisms have had on her, describing the episode as “a nightmare”.
King said Efimova should not have been at the Olympics after the Russian was banned in 2013, and was again provisionally suspended heading into these Games before Wada recommended she be given a reprieve. The first ban was reduced after her transgression – she said she failed to read the ingredients on a nutritional supplement – was ruled unintentional.
“It was war,” Efimova told USA Today on Saturday night. “It was like a nightmare. This completion [of the swimming in Rio] is a relief because I love racing, but this was more like a war. It was awful. She is young, but she should understand more.”
King on Saturday insisted she was glad she had made her comments. “It was something that needed to be brought up, in my mind. I wasn’t even planning on speaking out. It just kind of happened,” King said. “But I’m glad I did, because it is something that needs to be noticed, and it’s something that needs to be dealt with, and I just happened to be the person that decided to come out, so I’m super glad I did it.”
Efimova was booed regularly in the swimming arena and says she is now reconsidering whether to return to Southern California, where she has trained for the past few years. “[King] never talked with me,” Efimova said. “She said many things in the press conference, but nothing at all to me.”
King was asked earlier in the week whether athletes from her own country who had served drugs ban, such as 100m runner Justin Gatlin, should be allowed in the Games, and said no. But on Saturday Efimova said she felt her own country had been targeted unfairly. “Why are they discussing only Russians, not another country?” she said. “I mean, it is not only Russia.”
King got the better of Efimova in the pool, including their speciality the 100m breaststroke, winning two golds to the Russian’s two silvers. “[King] is young,” said Efimova of the 19 year-old. “She doesn’t know sometimes how life is going on. I hope that she changes, changes her mind and everything.”
Gatlin has chosen to dismiss King’s words. “I don’t even know who Lilly King is,” Gatlin told reporters on Saturday. “She does swimming, not track and field, so I’m not worried about that.”
This article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Sunday 14th August 2016 14.58 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010