Olympics: Evgeny Rylov Completes Backstroke Double; Ryan Murphy, Luke Greenbank Question Clean Sport (Updated)

Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Evgeny Rylov (ROC) celebrates on the podium after winning the men's 200 backstroke final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: Evgeny Rylov Wins 200 Back; Ryan Murphy Suggests Race Was Not Clean

Since 2017, no one in the world has been able to topple him. Not at the European Championships. Not at the World Championships. And now, not at the Olympic Games.

Call Evgeny Rylov the Tsar of the 200-meter backstroke, although his victory did not come without some controversy.

Completing a sweep of the backstroke events, Rylov blasted the field in his prime event at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Friday morning. Leading wire to wire, Rylov registered an Olympic-record time of 1:53.27 to beat reigning champion Ryan Murphy of the United States. Murphy checked in with a time of 1:54.15, which handed him the silver medal comfortably ahead of Great Britain’s Luke Greenbank (1:54.72) in the bronze-medal position. American Bryce Mefford was fourth in 1:55.49.

After the race, Murphy and Greenbank declared beliefs they are competing against athletes who are using performance-enhancing drugs. Although they did not refer to Russia or Rylov by name, Murphy and Greenbank referenced the decision by the International Olympic Committee to allow Russian athletes to compete in Tokyo, despite the fact that the nation was found to operate a systematic-doping program. The penalty levied against Russia was for it to be recognized as the Russian Olympic Committee and for its flag and national anthem to not be used during medals ceremonies.

In addition to finishing behind a Russian in the 200 backstroke, Murphy was the bronze medalist behind Rylov and Russian Kliment Kolesnikov in the 100 backstroke.

“I’ve got about 15 thoughts,” Murphy said, when asked if he thought the race was fair. “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.

“To be clear, my intention is not to make any allegations here. Congratulations to Evgeny and Luke. I think they did an incredible job. They’re both very talented swimmers. They both work really hard, got great technique. At the end of the day, I do believe there’s doping in swimming. That is what it is.”

Greenbank, who has surged up the world rankings over the past couple of years, echoed Murphy’s sentiments. Both men couldn’t help wonder if they should have stood on a higher step of the podium and have a medal of a different color for their efforts. Although Rylov has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the actions of the Russian system place question marks around his efforts.

“It’s obviously a very difficult situation not knowing whether who you are racing against is clean,” Greenbank said. “It is something that is part of sports and (international federations) need to tackle that.”

The notion that Rylov was beatable in the four-lap event evaporated earlier in the week, when he took home Olympic gold in the 100 backstroke. Although the Russian is a well-established force over both the 100- and 200-meter distances, there is no question he is a greater presence in the longer event. So, with victory stashed away in the shorter distance, his quest for a sweep became a formality.

Rylov became the seventh man to sweep the backstrokes at the Olympic Games, joining a list that includes legends Roland Matthes, John Naber and Aaron Peirsol. Murphy accomplished the feat five years ago at the Rio Games, and has added two more medals in Tokyo.

By triumphing in both backstroke events, Rylov snapped a pair of six-Games winning streaks by the United States. Entering Tokyo, the last time an American did not win the 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke was 1992. Rylov was simply too much, exhibiting a combination of speed and endurance that have made him the undisputed No. 1 performer in his stroke. Still, it is what he has done in the 200 backstroke which is most impressive.

Since earning the bronze medal in the 200 back at the 2016 Olympics, where he finished behind Murphy and Australia’s Mitch Larkin, Rylov has won a pair of world titles (2017/2019) and a pair of European crowns (2018/2020). A gold medal from the 2018 World Short Course Championships also dots his resume. The only thing left to chase is Peirsol’s world record, which sits at a ridiculous 1:51.92 from the super-suit era.

The Russian was in front at every wall, splitting 26.81 at the 50 and hitting the midway mark in 55.18. He was at 1:23.93 heading into the final lap.

Rylov noted that he is competing without assistance.

“Ryan has all the right to think what he does and say what he says. The time will tell. He didn’t accuse me of anything, so that’s why I don’t have anything against him,” Rylov said. “I have always been for clean conditions (in the sport). I always do my tests and I’m devoting my whole life to this. I don’t even know how to react to that.”


Men’s 200 Backstroke

World Record: Aaron Peirsol, United States, 1:51.92 (2009)
Olympic Record: Tyler Clary, United States, 1:53.41 (2012)


1. Evgeny Rylov (Russia) 1:53.27
2. Ryan Murphy (United States) 1:54.15
3. Luke Greenbank (Great Britain) 1:54.72
4. Bryce Mefford (United States) 1:55.49
5. Adam Telegdy (Hungary) 1:56.15
6. Radoslaw Kawecki (Poland) 1:56.39
7. Ryosuke Irie (Japan) 1:57.32
8. Nicolas Garcia (Spain) 1:59.06


  1. avatar
    Sergey Morozov

    Special people are engaged in checking athletes. It’s up to athletes to show results, not to express doubts.

  2. avatar
    Daniel Bogdanov

    Sore losers accuse other people of doping without evidence. Well, this is par for the course for the US. Everything they accuse other countries of, they are actually the ones doing it – e.g. spying on other countries, tech companies building backdoors at the behest of the government, etc.

    • avatar
      Я люблю твою маму

      You don’t want them to put the barrel of an AR15, stick it up your anus and then pull the trigger. That’s par for the course for the US too.

    • avatar
      CHRIS N

      Perhaps, or perhaps Russian athletes, whose have benefitted from a Russian system that was caught systematically doping athletes, should be called into question. Just because those drugs may or may not currently be in their system, doesn’t mean that drugs didn’t benefit their training and preperations.

  3. avatar

    Just Americans being sore losers. Nothing new

  4. avatar

    Americans can’t win so they have to drag other down. Show evidence otherwise should zip your mouth.

    • avatar

      The US teams thinks they cannot be touched – WRONG! They are just poor losers, cannot stand that there are better sportsmen and women in the world than them.

  5. avatar

    Russians have cheated before. They will cheat again. The same goes for the Americans. The only thing that matters is how far ahead of the testing protocols the scientists are working for each country. People really need to wake up and stop pretending these things are only going on in certain parts of the world.

  6. avatar
    Not an Angoloid

    Anglos being Angoloids.

  7. avatar

    Haha, you dorks above! No one was being accused, just stating facts about the doping scandal that is a real issue you nerds😂😂

    • avatar

      Really, that’s what you took away from Murphy’s comments?

  8. avatar

    Americans shouldn’t throw stones when USA Swimming covered up sexual abuse by coaches for decades. Pretty sure that’s worse than doping.

  9. avatar

    Russians are known to beat cheats, nothing new here.

  10. avatar

    Russians are cheaters, plain as day.

  11. avatar
    Scott McNiel

    Nothing will change unless the IOC takes real action instead of a slap on the hand. Any athlete, regardless if county, caught doping should be banned for life. Countries should face stiff penalties not just a slap on the hand, it is the only way to keep it honest and fair for all athletes that are competing. Name change and no anthem or flag, who cares. those penalties amount to nothing.

  12. avatar

    State sponsored doping system – thats the key word.

  13. avatar

    A message to every Misha, Aliosha, Masha, Andrusha. Don’t waste your time writing on these boards. You stand no chance of changing anything or anyone’s opinion. Americans takes their Russophobia with their mothers milk. From the day they are born and come home from the maternity unit and their parents switch on the telly they learn that the USA is the greatest nation on earth and that Russia is their mortal enemy, in past hiding under their bed, trying to introduce communism and take their money away, now interfering with their elections and even introducing a Russian spy in the White House. The americans are to win all gold medals, but failing that it better be UK, or Australia, or even tiny Singapore with no swimming traditions whatsoever, but never the Ruskies. Tiny Singapore with no swimming traditions is allowed to beat Michael Phelps, but 120 million country cannot produce good swimmers unless they dope. So dorogie druzia, don’t waste your time, try and ignore all this if you come. I have never lived in Russia, not in the USA, but have been following both countries for over 50 years. They did not like you under the tzar, nor under communism, nor as a capitalist state. The russophobia is all pervasive, it has been going on for many generation, try and ignore the ‘West’, enjoy your country. With my very best wishes

  14. avatar

    If the states don’t win they wine have some cheese with that you lost you lost get the hell over it

  15. avatar

    If only Americans were this zealous about being clean when USA Swimming covered up coaches sexually abusing athletes 🤣

  16. avatar

    It’s funny how the only ones complaining after losing are the white American swimmers.

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