Ryan Murphy: “I’ve got about 15 thoughts” about Doping in the Olympics

2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games

Ryan Murphy, one of the captains of the United States swimming team in Tokyo, called into question the antidoping measures of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in a press conference after the men’s 200 backstroke final. Murphy, the 2016 Olympic champion in the 100 back and 200 back, was beaten in the 200 back by Evgeny Rylov and in the 100 back by Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov, both of whom represent the Russian Olympic Committee.

Laine Higgins, a sports reporter with the Wall Street Journal, wrote that she asked Murphy if he had any doping concerns. Murphy’s response was explosive.

“I’ve got about 15 thoughts. Thirteen of them would get me into a lot of trouble. It is what it is. I try not to get caught up in that. It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean, and that is what it is. The people that know a lot more about the situation made the decision they did. It frustrates me but I have to swim the field that’s next to me. I don’t have the bandwidth to train for the Olympics at a very high level and try to lobby the people who are making the decisions that they’re making the wrong decisions.”

Editor’s note: Murphy’s comments were in response to doping in Olympic swimming in general. He was not asked about Rylov or the ROC specific, as SwimSwam originally reported, and he did not mention them in his response.

Murphy was not alone in his implicit criticism. Ian Herbert, a sportswriter at Britain’s Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, asked Luke Greenbank, who finished with a bronze medal in the 200 back behind Rylov and Murphy, what he thought about Murphy’s comments. Greenbank answered, “It’s frustrating knowing there’s a state-sponsored doping programme going on and not more being done to tackle that.”

Herbert also reported that Rylov responded to Murphy’s comments by saying, “Ryan has all the right to think the way he does and to say whatever he says. This is today and here that we live. We don’t live in the past. We don’t live in the future.”

Update: Rylov elaborated on his response later in the day, saying that he and Murphy had spoken and cleared the air:

“We have exchanged messages along our Instagram accounts, clarifying everything personally to each other and agreed that it was a misunderstanding and that his words were misinterpreted.

“He was asked what he thought in general about possible doping abuse in the sport of swimming. He replied that in his opinion not all athletes in this sport are clean. He has the right to express his personal opinion and most likely it is a problem somewhere.

“However, he was misinterpreted and his words were used in regards to our swim race, which was the final of the 200-meter backstroke event. He wrote me a personal message and apologized for this misunderstanding at the news conference.

“I have already posted my personal opinion about this incident. Everything is all right now and there are no problems at all.”

Murphy, without getting into specifics, was referencing the decision by CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) in December 2020 that reduced to two years a four-year ban that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had imposed on Russia in 2019 following the revelation that the country had been running a state-sponsored doping program to help shield Russian athletes from doping bans. Russian athletes would be allowed to compete at 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, although the Russian team name and national anthem would be banned.

This was not Murphy’s first public comment leveled at WADA. In July 2019, during the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Murphy waded into the Mack Horton-Sun Yang controversy. After Horton refused to share the podium with Sun, who was in the middle of a doping investigation, The Korea Herald quoted Murphy as saying, “Good for Mack. He’s got strong beliefs and it’s good he feels comfortable to stand up for those in this case – not necessarily standing against Sun, but more against FINA and WADA (and) their responsibilities.”

Murphy’s comments in Tokyo were reminiscent of Lilly King’s finger-wagging incident at the 2016 Rio Olympics, when the American implied that Russian breaststroker Yuliya Efimova was a doping cheat.

 

 

In This Story

213
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
213 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
FLYNN
1 month ago

Wow. Do these guys know something about Rylov personally?

Paul Thomas
Reply to  FLYNN
1 month ago

I think his point is that when you’re dealing with country-wide corruption on a massive, systemic scale, you don’t need to know something personally about an athlete to be suspicious of them. The suspicion attaches itself to every athlete from the country.

Reply to  FLYNN
1 month ago

Update: Murphy’s comments were in response to doping in Olympic swimming in general. He was not asked about Rylov or the ROC, and he did not mention them.

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Annika Johnson
1 month ago

Yes but by saying that he’s swimming in a race that’s probably not clean, he targets swimmers from his race and it implies that the guy who beat him is not clean. People will obviously understand that he targets Rylov. Murphy should quickly clarify his opinion if he didn’t target Rylov. Anyway I think he should have shut up and not accuse without any proof. Most of Western journalists obsessed with Russia are so happy to hear those words from Murphy. He has fallen into their trap.

Snarky
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

And Ryan is most likely right. Doping is a serious problem in all of athletics. I’d hate to see swimming turn into cycling, track and field, or weight lifting where nothing is clean. Good for Ryan to stand up and say something. Frankly the Russians shouldn’t be there. Only then might those athletes stand up to their captors.

Verram
1 month ago

No wonder Ryan seems so fidgety and restless on that medal podium when the Russian/ROC anthem was playing

Mhm
1 month ago

PERIODT!

comment image

Murphy stan
1 month ago

Murphy and Greenbank absolutely clocking the Russians, we love to see it!

comment image

Cringe alert
Reply to  Murphy stan
1 month ago

This is cringe

Murphy is my dad
Reply to  Cringe alert
1 month ago

So is State sponsored doping

Queen Simone
1 month ago

Meh. Innocent until proven otherwise.

Erik
Reply to  Queen Simone
1 month ago

Maybe if you read the entire article. There is a part that reads, “the revelation that the country had been running a state-sponsored doping program to help shield Russian athletes from doping bans.” Seems to me that there’s some shadiness going on there; why are/were Russian athletes being shielded from doping bans? If you’re a world-class swimmer vying for Gold medals, that should concern you.

Dan
Reply to  Queen Simone
1 month ago

Agree, but here Russia was proven guilty as a country but have received a sentence reduction.

Coach Tom
Reply to  Dan
1 month ago

Okay but has Rylov ever been in trouble for doping? When Lily King called out Efimova it’s because she was actually caught out for drug cheating. She also did it BEFORE the finals. Murphy is essentially making a guilt-by-association argument against a swimmer who (as far as I’m aware, if I’m wrong please correct me) has no allegations against him. It comes off as sour grapes especially coming off a loss.

Dean Team
Reply to  Coach Tom
1 month ago

The bitterest lemon I’ve ever seen

Snarky
Reply to  Dean Team
1 month ago

Said the guy who’s never been cheated by a doper.

Dean Team
Reply to  Snarky
1 month ago

Get a grip America

T S
Reply to  Coach Tom
1 month ago

No one said anything about Rylov specifically

Meow
Reply to  T S
1 month ago

LOL no, you don’t get to cast aspersions on the guy who beat you and then turn around and claim you weren’t talking about anybody specifically. Murphy is just being a poor loser.

Sebastian James
Reply to  Dan
1 month ago

An obvious paen to balm the hurt feelings of Vladimir Putin. If you cheat on an industrial scale, you get punished at it. Especially since there’s a looooong history of cheating and doping. It is unfair to the athletes and the fans of Olympic sports. Let them compete without the mental and physical pressure of politics. Clean up their own frikkin’ sporting program.

Huh
Reply to  Queen Simone
1 month ago

Meh Russia has been found guilty of massive state sponsored doping so I am leaning the other way.

Sebastian James
Reply to  Queen Simone
1 month ago

Wasn’t it just five years ago when they caught Russian intelligence agents using spy craft to swap out urine specimens? Do you actually think that after being caught repeatedly over a generation or more the Russians all of a sudden got religion and recanted their ways?

I’m waiting for the post-Games “scandal” involving Russian doping. Yet again.

T S
Reply to  Queen Simone
1 month ago

Russia, and China have documented their doping protocols for their weightlifters for decades. I don’t know why anyone would think that they wouldn’t do the same for swimmers

Swimmom
Reply to  Queen Simone
1 month ago

Maybe watch the documentary?
https://www.netflix.com/title/80168079

HJones
1 month ago

Mr. Murphy, if you know something about someone specifically in that race being dirty, please do the unthinkable and just say it. It would be GROUNDBREAKING for clean sport. If you don’t actually know anything, then you are just coming off as a sore loser and trying discrediting the hard work of the man who beat you, Rylov, who in every way is a better swimmer than you.

I’m tired of people who claim to be against doping make vague, useless statements like this. Put your money where your mouth is, or this sport will never stand a chance in the war against cheaters.

John Aselton
Reply to  HJones
1 month ago

Exactly, not to mention he is the Captain of the team. These statements don’t set a good example.

Chad
Reply to  HJones
1 month ago

I think he is keeping his comments vague since he doesn’t know anyone specifically who was doping. More so he is venting about how widespread the issue is throughout the sport and criticizing the governing bodies that could do more to prevent it.

Also, it’s not as if he went out of his way to make these statements. He was responding to a question that happened to be asked after the race and the media took his response and posed it as a deliberate response to losing to Rylov.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chad
jablo
1 month ago

“15 thoughts and 13 would get me in trouble” 🤣🤣 absolutely legendary statement from Murphy

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  jablo
1 month ago

Pretty rehearsed, if you ask me. If he’d ended with “and a b*tch ain’t one,” it would have been more legendary.

reliable source
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

nah it would’ve been misogynistic lol

Cringe alert
Reply to  jablo
1 month ago

Meh. Just sounds like a sore loser

Dee
1 month ago

I know nothing and I’m not about to judge anybody on their nationality, but I was once personally told by a non-swimmer international athlete to watch how athletes react to the success of an opponent, because “other athletes know” (in the context of doping). Kelly Sotherton has said similar publicly too (in the context of Ludmila Blonska doping, and all the girls knowing it, but being able to do nothing about it). I suspect these comments are more about ROC generally, rather than a particular athlete, but it does make things uncomfortable.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

Read More »