Lilly King Says Russians Should Not Have Been in Tokyo

Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Lilly King (USA) in the women's 4x100m medley relay heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports
Lilly King -- Photo Courtesy: Grace Hollars/USA Today Sports

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Lilly King Says Russians Should Not Have Been in Tokyo

Five years after an Olympic debut when Lilly King won gold in the 100 breaststroke and then declared that her closest rival, silver medalist Yuliya Efimova of Russia, should not have been competing at the Games, King mostly avoided any controversial statements during the swimming portion of the Tokyo Games as she swam to bronze in the 100 breast and silver in the 200 breast. But in the hours after the Olympic swimming competition concluded in Tokyo, King addressed one of the controversies of the last few days and unsurprisingly came down against possible doping in the sport.

After Friday’s 200 backstroke final, American silver medalist Ryan Murphy expressed frustration about Russian swimmers being allowed to compete in Tokyo despite the country’s official ban from the Games for running a state-sponsored doping program. Murphy cited a conversation with FINA executive director Brent Nowicki as he basis for his conviction that the Olympics were not free from the stain of doping. “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,” Murphy said Friday.

In a Sunday evening press conference in Tokyo, King was given the chance to respond, and never one to back down from her opinions, she voiced her concerns. According to reports from the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated, King did not criticize Russia specifically, but the implication was clear.

“As long as there’s been athletics, there’s been doping,” King said, according to Sports Illustrated. “Obviously we’re working on cleaning that up. I’m sure there were a lot of people competing this week from certain countries who probably shouldn’t have been here.”

Russian swimmers were allowed to compete in Tokyo under the flag of the “Russian Olympic Committee,” but no prominent Russian swimmers were left home from the Games, and their uniforms and caps were still in Russian colors. Given that the only swimmers who beat Murphy in individual events this week were representing the ROC, his frustrations with the situation were understandable, and it was no surprise to see King weighing in, given her past.

No Russian swimmers beat King in any events this week, although Efimova was in the 100 breast final and Evgeniia Chikunova took fourth in both breaststroke events — and in fact, King’s good friend and teammate Annie Lazor only got by Chikunova by 0.04 to claim bronze in the 200 breast final, so this issue may have directly affected King should the race have unfolded only marginally different.

“I try not to think about that. But also, I wasn’t competing against anyone from a country that should have been banned and got a slap on the wrist and a rebranding of their national flag,” King said, according to SI. “Personally I wasn’t affected, but I know Ryan was. I feel like that has tainted your Games, and for that I’m so sorry. But, yeah, there are a lot of people here who shouldn’t be here.”

Russian Olympic Committee officials have taken issue with these stances against their team and the implications that the Russians competing in Tokyo were unclean. After Murphy’s comments Friday, the ROC released a dramatic, sarcastic statement implying that other countries were simply unnerved by Russian success at the Games. And Sunday, ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said, according to the AP, that critics “supposed that as a matter of fact our athletes can’t compete without doping,” but that Russian athletes in Tokyo “proved the opposite not just with words but with their deeds and results.”

Check out the full reports from the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated.


  1. avatar
    Andrei Vorontsov

    1. USA Team had the worst performance in Olympic Games 2020 – they won only 11 gold medals out of 35 (2 gold medals in recently introduced events – 800 free men and 1500 women – so in “format” of the Games 2012-2016 it will be only 9 gold medals). 24 gold medals were won by swimmers from other countries. Do they all used drugs?
    2. USA swimmers – Jessica Foschi, Angel Martino (Meyers), Jessica Hardi were DQ for steroid use at different times, Amy Van Dyken was a client of the PED distributing “BALCO” company. She was “cleared” of drug use (or may be she just had a deal?). Did Lily King ever heared about them???
    3. As relates to Ryan Murphy – it is obvius that he was ill prepared for the Games, undertrained and therefore underperformed.
    4. Yes, Russian athletes have a long history and very long records of PED use, but in that list you will find very few swimmers in respect to other sports. Most of Russian Swimmers do not tolerate drug use.
    5. All US Big Leagues – MLB, NFL (Baseball, Football) raised and bread on steroids and growth hormone and by all means resist to introduction of systematic Doping Control. Its – enough to name here Mark McGwuire – An American Idol! Lily can you live with that fact, can you still sleep peacefully at nights? Do your principles allow you tolerate that situation in USA sport?

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    • avatar
      Michael Hoover

      Said a Russian

      • avatar

        you are ignorant and can’t accept truth because of someone’s nationality? You are a true example of what is wrong with America!

    • avatar

      You’re way off…
      1. What does the USA performance have to that do with Russian doping???
      2. How do you compare individuals to thousands of Russians doping in a state run program. And you said it yourself… the USA anti doping agency DQ’d the athletes… unlike Russia who made a deal to have all their athletes compete.
      3. Murphy wasn’t ill-prepared, he was tenths off his 2016 times
      4. How do you know that the evidence was altered and destroyed?

      • avatar
        Andrei Vorontsov

        1. In USA you have your own “rich” doping history especially in Track-and-Field and Major Leagues. – “The Legend continues”.
        2. Yes, Russia had a state sponsored doping programme. In USA there are a few big private ventures distributing PED at industrial scale. “Balco” was just a tip of the iceber (+ “Nike” project of coach Alberto Salazar, ++++).
        3. 52.19 – 51.85 = 0.34 – too much when the World expects a WR from you
        4. It is well known fact that Carl Lewis delivered 3 positive test during Olympic Trials in 1988. Nevertheless he was selected for the Games and after DQ of Ben Johnson became an “Olympic Champion” (and still is). And the story of Irish girl – a swimmer protected by FINA (Micheal Smith) or Sun Young, and the misty story of Thorpy 1st comeback (he moved to train in USA then)???
        You can lable anybody “a drug user” – it is very easy. It is not easy for clean athlete to prove that he is not a cheat.
        Doping – its is like COVID-19 or plague – global problem, not only Russian or American. Clean your house and the Russian must do their job too.

      • avatar

        The USA didn’t do well and I’m glad of it because of the kneeling.

      • avatar

        Nah, he is not but you are, provide the facts and stop attacking…blinded by truth seems to be the American ideal, is it not!

    • avatar

      I’m an American and I’m the first person to attack Mark McGuire and A-Roid. These players should have immediately been kicked out of baseball but there’s too much money to be made. The difference is that these athletes and many other American athletes are not subject to state sponsored doping. Doping is not sanctioned by our government nor by our President. Doping in Russia was directly linked to Vladimir Putin. This is why entire nations that condone doping should be banned. Unfortunately, going forward, the IOC will do nothing. Beijing 2022 is around the corner. Hush up, count your Rolex’s, and pretend that John Lennon’s, “Imagine” is real.

    • avatar

      In Rio in 2016 when asked about USA track and fields Justin Gatlin, she said he shouldn’t be there either. When it comes to the Olympics she believed if you’re popped once, you’re gone. So, I guess that answers your question.

  2. avatar

    USA never ran a STATE sponsored and coordinated siping and cover up program like Russia who when caught then also tried to manipulate the database data to cover up even more. The point Lilly King is making is not that every Russian swimmer is doped up currently, but that if Russia was banned as punishment then they should be BANNED and not be competing. They weren’t banned. They were just punished in name only with different flag and uniforms and team name. What kind of punishment is that really? What deterrent does that send to stop them from continuing to run these state sponsored doping programs? They should have been totally banned even though some innocent athletes would be affected. That way the innocent athletes could rise up in anger at their sports leadership for costing them their chances and pressure them to do things right going forward. The punishment did not fit the many crimes. Deal with it dude. Doping by individuals is one thing. A government running an entire covert operation to dope and help it’s athletes conceal is a whole other level and your little list of comparison examples pales in comparison to what you’re Russians have done. A nation of cheaters versus a few bad eggs.

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      Let’s speak about worse matters. Beijing 2022 is just around the corner. Presently, China has 1 million Uighur minorities in concentration camps. Why isn’t the U.S. boycotting Beijing 2022? It’s horrifying to me that there will be an opening ceremony with doves and messages of peace and yet next door the Chinese government is committing genocide. American athletes should care. The U.S. Olympic Committee should care. The United States government should care but guess what? Nobody cares!

      • avatar

        Governments should never hold athletes hostage. That is using people for a forced stance. If individual athletes want to boycott, fine. The US should never have boycotted in 1980 either.

    • avatar

      Ain’t that the pot calling the Kettle black…ROFL

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      Contrary to what has been said at this thread, the claim of a Russian state sponsored doping campaign hasn’t been conclusively proven – which is why they’re being allowed to compete.

      The ROC designation is indicative of the bigoted biases against Russia.

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    That is the Olympic Committee’s false. How on Earth do they allow athletics from a state sponsored doping program to compete under a different name??? Did they take bribes from the mobs??? We may never know, but it looks really nasty to say the least.

  4. avatar
    Linda Mann


  5. avatar

    Apparently the situation in Track and Field is so bad, that Russia was only permitted 10 athletes total across 45 events. See Reuters story:
    TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) – The head of World Athletics said on Wednesday that, rather than lamenting that only 10 Russians will be able to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, the country should be grateful they have anyone here at all given their long history of “obfuscation”.

    • avatar

      The situation in track and field is so bad because it’s headed by anti-Russian chauvinists who’ve been quite unchecked in their cocky behavior.

  6. avatar

    They SHOULDN’T have been at the Olympics. The only reason they were there is that the powers that be are missing part of their anatomy. I like that King sticks to her guns. She believes if you’re popped once that’s it. In 2016, when asked about USA’s Justin Gatlin, she said he shouldn’t be there either.

  7. avatar
    Barry Badrinath

    Wow! This thread is like the second Cold War come to life! BOTH countries have a rich history of doping, this is fact. I do find it comical though that Andrei is putting the Americans on blast for only winning 30 medals. We had one swimmer win as many as the ROC’s 5. Given the size and population of Russia, that’s not great. If they are doping…. They’re not doing very well at it.

  8. avatar

    Americans on their high horse despite being the people who gave us monsters like Brock Turner and Andrew Boeckman. 🤔

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