The famous ‘finger wag’ seen around the world set up one of the most anticipated swimming races of the 2016 Olympic Games. American Lilly King had no qualms placing a spotlight on the fact fellow 100m breaststroke competitor, Yulia Efimova from Russia, had previously been banned for doping back in 2013 and also tested positive for meldonium earlier this year.
When all was said and done, however, it was King who reigned in the pool, coming out on top in a gold medal-winning performance of 1:04.93, a new Olympic Record in the women’s 100m breaststroke.
Efimova, who had been relatively quiet to the media leading up to the race, broker her silence post-race, calling the entire ordeal an unnecessary ‘cold war’.
“I understand the people who didn’t congratulate me because the media was full of fake stories about me,” said Efimova, according to state-run Russian media source TASS. “But on the other hand I don’t really understand the foreign competitors. All athletes should be above politics, but they just watch TV and believe everything they read. I always thought the cold war was long in the past. Why start it again, by using sport?”
Nonetheless, Efimova expressed slight satisfaction in her own performance, commenting, “I’m really happy, because what has happened to me is unbelievable. I made a mistake once, and I served the punishment.”
“I don’t even know how I made it to the final,” Efimova continued. “The last few weeks have been very hard, and I can’t remember the last time I had more than four hours of sleep. I wasn’t in my best form. I’m really upset I couldn’t win today.”
On her recent meldonium scandal, where she tested positive, but received reprieve due to WADA’s changing stance on testing grace periods, Efimova stated, “What happened the second time wasn’t my fault. I don’t know if I should explain in front of everyone.”
With the 200m breaststroke race yet to come for Efimova, this heated situation will no doubt retain the sport’s attention for the duration of the 2016 Olympic Games swimming competition.