American swimmer Ryan Murphy suggested some competitors were doping at the 2020 Olympics after losing in two races to Russian swimmers.
“It is a huge mental drain on me to hear I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean,” Murphy told reporters after losing to Evgeny Rylov in the 200-meter backstroke. “That is what it is.”
Rylov of Russia scored gold on Friday while Murphy took silver.
In the 100-meter backstroke, Murphy, 26, of Illinois, ended behind both Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov, also of Russia.
Murphy later told a press conference he was not accusing the Russians of doping.
“I need to be clear,” he said. “My intention is not to make any allegations here. Congratulations to Evgeny, congratulations to Luke. They both did an incredible job. They’re both very talented swimmers. They both train real hard and they’ve got great technique.”
Rylov denied being involved in any doping schemes, telling reporters through a translator that “I have always been for clean competition.”
“Ryan has all the right to think the way he does and say what he does,” Rylov said. “He did not accuse me of anything. That’s why I don’t have anything against him.”
The Russian Olympic Committee took to Twitter to respond to Murphy’s comments, describing its swimmers’ victories as “unnerving” to competitors.
“Yes, we are here at the Olympics. Absolutely right. Whether someone likes it or not,” the committee said. “The old barrel organ started the song about Russian doping again,” it added. “English-language propaganda, oozing verbal sweat in the Tokyo heat. Through the mouths of athletes offended by defeats. We will not console you. Forgive those who are weaker. God is their judge. And for us—an assistant.”
Russian athletes at the Olympics are not officially representing the country.
That stems from a ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency. The agency’s executive committee voted in 2019 to declare Russia non-compliant with its anti-doping code for four years, based on documents and examinations that concluded Moscow intentionally altered data before and while it was copied by the agency for a probe.
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,” Craig Reedie, the agency’s president, said at the time. “Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport later reduced the ban from four years to two years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.