This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Lilly King echoed fellow U.S. swimming medalist Ryan Murphy’s criticism of the presence of Russian athletes at the Tokyo Olympics and raised it a notch on August 1 by saying, “There are a lot of people here that should not be here.”
She was the third prominent American to publicly question the stringency of ongoing penalties for Russian national programs found to have doped extensively.
The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Travis Tygart, blasted “the Russian state and sport officials” in an e-mail to Reuters, saying they “put the dark cloud over themselves and, in the process, tragically, pushed their athletes out in the storm.”
Russia is still serving a multiyear ban on international competition after Russia was found to have a massive, state-sponsored cheating program ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics that helped evade anti-doping rules in a wide array of sports.
It has sent depleted squads under Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) banners to the past two Olympics.
Tygart said the “rebrand” of Russia makes “a mockery of the games by their thirst for medals over values” and challenged the ROC to make its athletes’ test results public if it wants to end the doubts.
“They should put their money where their rhetoric is by making individual tests by athlete name public and allow a transparent international accounting of the reality of whether things have changed within Russia, as the evidence of the last years is that nothing has, unfortunately,” Tygart told Reuters.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach repeated his defense of Russian participants, 335 of whom are competing in Tokyo.
“They have all gone through the qualifications and appropriate tests like all other athletes participating here. Therefore, they have the right to be treated accordingly,” Bach told dpa.
The winner of a silver and a bronze this week in the 200- and 100-meter breaststroke events, King was responding on August 1 to the president of the ROC saying his squad’s medals are the “best answer” to critics.
Russian athletes deemed clean from doping are competing under the ROC team banner at these games, although they can’t use the Russian name, flag, or anthem.
ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov tweeted this week that critics “supposed that as a matter of fact our athletes can’t compete without doping” but said Russians in Tokyo “proved the opposite, not just with words but with their deeds and results.”
Tygart said Russian officials “want to continue to lie, deny, and attack those with the courage to stand up to their deceit and blatant disregard for the rules and the truth.”
Without mentioning Russia by name, Ryan this week suggested after finishing behind Russian swimmer Yevgeny Rylov in two medal races that those events were “probably not clean.”
He later said he wasn’t targeting Rylov but the sport.
“I was asked a question about doping and swimming and I answered honestly,” Ryan said. “I do think there’s doping in swimming.”
King was more direct concerning Russia’s history of cheating.
“I wasn’t racing anyone from a country who should have been banned and instead got a slap on the wrist and rebranded their national flag,” Lilly said, sitting next to Murphy. “So, I personally wasn’t as affected. But Ryan was.”
Russian athletes have won 40 medals in Tokyo, 11 of them gold.