Rio de Janeiro: Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova with a history of failed doping tests, has taken aim at the United States’ Michael Phelps for past marijuana and alcohol use on the day of his record-breaking 22nd Olympic Gold medal here.
Efimova, who was banned for 16 months for testing positive to drug 7-keto-DHEA in 2013 and subsequently tested positive for Meldonium, went on the offensive at a combative press conference following her second silver medal in Rio.
When asked about recent comments from American gold medallist Lilly King, who slammed her Russian rival for past doping violations, Efimova took aim at Phelps, her all-conquering teammate, reports news.com.au on Friday.
“What would she say about Michael Phelps? Of course I’m not for doping, and I’ve never used it on purpose. But I know there have been very many occasions where people do it because they don’t know or because they’re stupid or naive,” Efimova said.
“There always should be another chance. When you are driving a car and break a rule, you get only a ticket. You don’t lose your license for life or get put in jail.”
USA’s swimming coach Bob Bowman declined to respond to Efimova’s comment on Phelps.
Efimova’s two-year ban for testing positive to 7-keto-DHEA three years ago was reduced to 16 months because she insisted she took the steroid unknowingly.
She was one of seven Russian swimmers initially banned from the Rio Olympics following the International Olympic Committee’s move to exclude any Russian athlete with a prior doping conviction.
She was subsequently cleared to compete by world swimming governy body FINA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Efimova’s move to draw Phelps into a doping controversy will no doubt rile the American camp, who have been vocal in condemning drug cheats at these Games.
Phelps has twice been suspended by USA Swimming, for three months in 2009 after he was pictured smoking a bong and a further six months after he was caught DUI in 2014, but has never tested positive for a banned substance.
His victory in the 200m individual medley took his personal tally to four gold medals in Rio and 22 gold medals over the course of his unparalleled Olympic career.
“I’m just happy for the USA to know I am competing clean and doing what is right. There was a lot of pressure obviously, just going in there. Pressure on me because I was saying what I believe is right. I felt I had to perform better than I did in the past,” King said after defeating Efimova in the 100m breaststroke earlier in the week.