Star U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy: His Tokyo races “probably not clean”

Tokyo — American backstroke star Ryan Murphy suggested Friday that his races at the Tokyo Olympics were “probably not clean,” seeming to take aim at Russian swimmers who beat him in two events.

Murphy made the comments Friday after taking the silver medal behind Evgeny Rylov in the 200-meter backstroke. Three days ago, he settled for bronze in the 100 back, touching after both Rylov and another Russian, Kliment Kolesnikov.

At a news conference with the other medalists, Murphy said he wasn’t making any allegations and congratulated Rylov.

Most Russian athletes were allowed to compete at Tokyo, even though they officially represent the Russian Olympic Committee – not their country – after revelations it launched a massive state-sponsored program to elude testers ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Rylov, who has long been one of the world’s top backstrokers, denied being involved in any doping schemes. He said he’s always been clean in competition and has been tested. He said he didn’t feel like he was the target of Murphy’s frustration.

“From the bottom of my heart I am for clean sport,” The Washington Post quotes him as saying through a translator. “I’ve devoted my entire life to this sport. I don’t even know how to react to that.”

Rylov said Murphy was entitled to his thoughts in light of the scandals, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Post says the man who won the bronze in Friday’s race, Luke Greenbank of Britain, expressed thoughts similar to Ryan’s.

Swimming - Men's 200m Backstroke - Medal Ceremony
Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee, center, Ryan Murphy of the United States, left and Luke Greenbank of Britain, pose on the podium with the gold, silver and bronze medals respectively after the  200-meter backstroke in the Tokyo Olympics on July 30, 2021. MARKO DJURICA / REUTERS

“Obviously, it’s frustrating as an athlete, having known that there’s a state-sponsored doping program going on, and feeling like maybe more could be done to tackle that,” Greenbank said.

Murphy, a U.S. swim team captain and gold medalist in both men’s backstroke events at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, said, “I’ve got 15 thoughts, 13 of them would get me into a lot of trouble,” when asked by a reporter if he had any doping concerns about his races, according to Reuters.

The Post reports that Murphy said, “I think the thing that’s frustrating is that you can’t answer that question with 100-percent certainty. I don’t know if it was 100-percent clean. And that’s because of things that have happened over the past. … There is a situation – and that’s a problem.”

“It is a huge mental drain on me throughout the year to know that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean,” Murphy added. “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.”

Later, according to the Post, he said point-blank, “I do believe there is doping in swimming.”