Angry Michael Phelps backs Lilly King's stance over 'drugs cheat' Yulia Efimova at Rio Olympics
Published 09/08/2016 | 09:01
Michael Phelps backed compatriot Lilly King's attitude towards Russian Yulia Efimova at the Olympics on Monday and said more people should follow her lead.
King, who beat the twice-banned Russian in the 100 metres breaststroke final on Monday, showed her displeasure at Efimova competing in Sunday's heats, wagging her finger at the Russian before she called her a drug cheat.
Yulia Efimova, a doping cheat who has previously served 16 months for doping and has also tested positive for meldonium this year, had been ruled out of the Olympics after the damning contents of the McLaren report were released and was handed a last-minute reprieve at an appeals process.
"I think people should be speaking out more. You know I think (Lily) is right. I think something needs to be done," said Phelps.
Plenty agreed as the 24-year-old world champion from Russia was showered with boos as she took to the blocks.
King led at the turn and repelled a late Efimova charge to win in an Olympic record of 1min 04.93sec, with the Russian second in 1:05.50. American Katie Miele was third in 1:05.69.
"I think it just proved that you can compete clean and still come out on top," King said, adding that she had no regrets about her pre-race comments about Efimova.
"I'm actually glad I made a statement, and I ended up coming out on top in the race," she said.
While King and Miele celebrated joyously together in the water, Efimova - who is also entered in the 200m breaststroke - hung on her lane rope before departing the pool deck.
"For me it's very hard to swim today, this is like three weeks of crazy," said Efimova, who broke down in tears facing journalists after the race.
It was in contrast to the celebrations of China's Sun Yang, another swimmer targeted by his peers for past drugs transgressions.
Sun shook off controversy to win the 200m freestyle gold, cheered on by Chinese team mates and supporters in the stands, one group of them seated behind a section of Aussies whose 400m free gold medallist Mack Horton this week branded Sun a drugs cheat - a reference to his three-month suspension in 2014 for a positive test for a banned stimulant.
"I tried not to get distracted by outside noise," Sun said. "I just tried to be myself."
Phelps was full of admiration for his 19-year-old team mate.
"You know, we have some tough young kids in our team and I think that's something special," Phelps said.
"It's kind of sad that today in sports in general, not just in swimming, there are people who are testing positive and are allowed back in the sport, and multiple times.
"I think it just breaks what sport is meant to be and that pisses me off."