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Silver And Bronze Medal Winners Question Legality Of Russian Swimmer’s Win

by : Hannah Smith on : 30 Jul 2021 10:02
Silver And Bronze Medal Winners Question Legality Of Russian Swimmer's WinPA Images

The decision to allow Russian athletes to compete at the Olympic Games has been thrown under renewed scrutiny after two swimmers said they did not believe the race they were swimming in was ‘clean.’

The controversy was sparked following the men’s 200m backstroke final, which was won by Russian Olympic Committee swimmer Evgeny Rylov. However following the race, silver and bronze medallists Ryan Murphy and Luke Greenbank – from the USA and Great Britain respectively – both said they had their doubts over whether the field was playing fair.

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‘It is a huge mental drain on me throughout the year to know that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean, and that is what it is,’ Murphy told reporters in a poolside interview following the race.

Men's 200m breaststroke podium (PA Images)PA Images

The world record holder later clarified he was not directly accusing Rylov of having cheated, but said he was not confident the race was ‘100 per cent clean.’

‘At the end of the day, I do believe there is doping in swimming,’ he said in a press conference.

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Murphy’s worries were echoed by Greenbank, who directly spoke about the decision to allow Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics despite the World Anti-Doping Association having found the country to have engineered a state-sponsored doping programme.

‘It’s obviously a very difficult situation not knowing whether who you are racing against is clean,’ the Team GB swimmer said, per The Independent. ‘There’s a lot of media around the Russian federation coming into the Olympics. It’s frustrating seeing that as an athlete, having known that there is a state-sponsored doping programme going on and more could be done to tackle that.’

Russian swimmer wins Olympic gold medal (PA Images)PA Images

Under a two year ban handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Russian athletes at the Olympics are currently unable to compete under their country’s name and flag, and may not have their national anthem played at medal ceremonies. However, with more than 300 Russian athletes involved in Tokyo 2020, critics have questioned whether the so-called ‘ban’ was an effective enough punishment for a country.

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Rylov has not been directly accused of doping, and himself denied he had cheated, saying ‘I have always been for clean competition. I am always tested. I will fill out all of the forms. From the bottom of my heart, I am for clean sport. I am devoting my whole life to this sport.’

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Sport, Russia, Ryan Murphy, Swimming

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The Independent
  1. The Independent

    ‘I’m in a race that’s probably not clean’: USA’s Ryan Murphy doubts Olympics after Russian wins gold