Lilly King Says All Athletes Caught Doping Should Be Banned from the Olympics – Including American Sprinter Justin Gatlin
After beating Russian rival Yulia Efimova, Lilly King told reporters, "I basically said what everybody thinks"
Lilly King said more with her gold medal victory than she ever could with words, but the 19-year-old swimming sensation continued to speak out against athetes’ drug use at a press conference Monday night.
After winning the 100-meter breaststroke – and beating Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, whom King called out for doping earlier this week – the Indiana native made no apologies for her disgust with the doping scandal that has shaken the Rio Olympics.
“I’m just happy for the USA to know I am competing clean and doing what is right,” King said during a tense 15-minute press conference, with Efimova sitting mere feet away. “There was a lot of pressure obviously, just going in there. Pressure on me because I was saying what I believe is right. I felt I had to perform better than I did in the past.”
“I basically said what everybody thinks,” she added, per the Associated Press.
Efimova, who earned the silver medal, was on the brink of tears during the press conference, explaining that she was being victimized for “mistakes” she made in the past.
“I once made mistakes and I was banned for 16 months,” Efimova, 24, said. “Second time it was not my fault. If Wada say tomorrow they are banning yogurt or animal protein or stuff that other people use and they ban this and you stop, [what happens next?] This comes out of your body for six months and if doping control come after two months and it is still in your body, is this your fault?”
King, separated from Efimova by American bronze medalist Katie Meili, avoided eye contact with her competitor as the Russian swimmer defended her place at the Games.
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Efimova wagged her finger after she won her heat in the semifinals after she was booed by the crowd, mimicking a move previously made by King. The American was caught watching the scene on a monitor and mocking the gesture.
The Russian swimmer failed a drug test earlier this year, but was controversially allowed to compete in Rio. She had served a 16-month suspension before that, as well.
“You’re shaking your finger number one and you’ve been caught for drug-cheating. I’m just not a fan,” King told NBC on Saturday.
The tension between the athletes continued Monday night as King stared Efimova down when the women took their adjacent positions before the start of the race.
Things were just as icy after the race, as Efimova was offered no congratulations from King or her American teammate Meili.
“I was really in the moment and if I was in Yulia’s position I would not want to be congratulated by someone who was criticizing me,” King said at the press conference. “If she wanted to be congratulated, I apologize. She had a fantastic swim.”
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King’s stance against doping isn’t just in regards to her sport – or even athletes from other countries. When she was asked if American sprinter Justin Gatlin should be on the team after two drug suspensions, the Indiana University student didn’t back down.
“Do I think people who have been caught for doping offenses should be on the team? No, I don’t,” King said. “It should be set in stone. There should be no bouncing back and forth.”
King is set to compete in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke this week.