Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova tried to get the final word Saturday in her simmering feud with Lilly King, chastising the American for turning the Olympics into a “war.”
“It was like a nightmare,” Efimova told USA Today Sports on Saturday night. “This completion [of the program] is a relief because I love racing, but this was more like a war. It was awful. She is young, but she should understand more.”
Gatlin on criticism: Don’t know who Lilly King is
Sprinter Justin Gatlin, who is competing in Rio despite twice testing positive for banned substances in the past, brushed off criticism by U.S. swimmer Lilly King.
King, 19, had singled out Efimova for criticism over her doping past ahead of their 100-meter breaststroke matchup earlier this week, in which King won the gold medal and Efimova took silver.
The Russian Olympic team is under heavy scrutiny following a World Anti-Doping Agency report showing the breadth of state-sponsored doping in the country, and King said Efimova and all previously caught dopers should be barred from the Olympics.
King said Saturday that she was glad she spoke up about the topic of doping.
“It was something that needed to be brought up, in my mind. I wasn’t even planning on speaking out. It just kind of happened,” King said, according to USA Today Sports. “But I’m glad I did, because it is something that needs to be noticed, and it’s something that needs to be dealt with, and I just happened to be the person that decided to come out, so I’m super glad I did it.”
Efimova was suspended 16 months after she tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in 2013. She was also provisionally suspended this year after testing positive for meldonium, but that ban was lifted following a WADA recommendation.
She has maintained since her 2013 failed test that she did not know that a supplement she was taking contained a banned substance.
The 24-year-old Efimova was repeatedly booed in the aquatic center at Rio. She told USA Today Sports that she found it unfair that Russians were singled out for criticism. She also said she may reconsider living and training in Southern California based on her reception.
Efimova also said King never talked to her about the issue.
“[King] is young. She doesn’t know sometimes how life is going on,” Efimova said. “I hope that she changes, changes her mind and everything.”
King, meanwhile, said she hopes to be an example to people who want to point out problems around them.
“I hope they look at me as someone they can look up to when they feel like they need to speak out against something that they feel is wrong,” King said.
Efimova beat King in their breaststroke segment of Saturday’s 4×100-meter medley relay, but King and fellow Americans Kathleen Baker, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel took the gold medal, the United States’ 1,000th all time. The Russian team finished sixth.