Simmering discontentment over Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova participating in the Olympics after twice being banned for doping boiled over on national television Sunday.
After U.S. swimmer Lilly King recorded the fastest semifinal time in the 100-meter breaststroke, she didn’t hide her feelings about Efimova during a brief interview with NBC.
“You’re shaking your finger ‘No. 1’ and you’ve been caught for drug cheating,” King said. “I’m not a fan.”
Efimova, who has the world’s second-fastest time in the event this year, shook her finger as she was loudly booed before and after her semifinal race at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.
King didn’t back down from her comments when speaking with reporters in the mixed zone.
“That’s kind of my personality,” she said. “I’m not just this sweet little girl.… If I do need to stir it up to put a little fire under my butt or anybody else’s, then that’s what I’m going to do.
“It’s unfortunate that that’s going on in the sport right now, but that was her decision and [boos] are what’s going to happen.”
Last month, the International Swimming Federation announced Efimova’s Olympic ban as part of Russia’s doping scandal. She was one of seven Russian swimmers barred from the Games who had either failed doping tests or were named in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into state-sponsored doping by the country.
Efimova, 24, previously served a 16-month suspension for doping and earlier this year failed a test for meldonium, a banned substance, though the result was overturned.
She was quietly reinstated last week. Neither the International Swimming Federation or the International Olympic Committee has provided an explanation for the decision.
Efimova declined to answer questions after the semifinal.
Should she be swimming in Rio de Janeiro?
“It was the IOC’s decision and I’m going to respect that decision even though it’s not something that I agree with,” King said.