U.S. Olympians voice outrage as doping controversy makes waves in Rio

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By: CBS News
August 9, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Outrage was growing in Rio on Tuesday over a medal-winning Russian athlete with a history of doping.

Yulia Efimova won silver in Monday's 100-meter breaststroke, but she tested positive twice for the banned substance meldonium, CBS News' Ben Tracy reports.

She had been banned from competing in the Rio Games because of her doping history, as well as her country's vast state-sponsored doping program, but, after winning an appeal, she was quietly put back on the roster just days before the race, Tracy says.

Efimova swam in the lane right next to her American rival, Lilly King. When they touched the wall, the Russian, who served a 16-month suspension for doping, won a silver medal, coming in second to the 19-year-old American.

A grudge match between the two athletes began over the weekend when they engaged in a fierce finger shake-off.

"You're shaking your finger for number one and you've been caught for drug cheating. I'm just not a fan," King said after wagging her own finger at Efimova's celebratory gesture.

And members of Team USA were not holding back about there being known dopers in the pool.

"She's justified," male swimmer Cody Miller said in support of King's criticism. "During these games, there will probably be people who miss the podium to people who don't deserve to be on the podium, and that is wrong."

Russia initially submitted 389 athletes for the Rio Games, and only 271 were approved to compete by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). However, in the past several days, 8 Russian athletes banned for doping were allowed back in the competition after winning appeals, and most of them were swimmers.

The IOC claimed there was nothing it could do.

"What do you say to the other swimmers who are now expressing concerns about competing in a pool with what they describe as known cheaters?" said IOC Spokesperson Mark Adams. "These are people who have served sanctions and are now clear. You'd think that you're in the United States and you'd appreciate the idea of giving everyone the chance to prove their own innocence, and that's what we've tried to do.

But doping expert John Hoberman, who is based at the University of Texas, believed the IOC chose not to ban the entire Russian team entire team because Russian President Vladimir Putin spent more than $50 billion on the Sochi Olympics, a record amount.

"This was a failure of political will on the part of IOC. I do not see an end to this crisis in sight," Hoberman said. "I think that the incentives to dope were built into the system a long time ago."

And this could be why veteran Olympians like Michael Phelps, who was competing in his 5th Olympic Games in Rio, were frustrated by the lack of progress.

"You want to be able to compete on an even playing field," Phelps said. "In my career, I don't know if I've ever competed in a clean sport."

But Americans were involved in the doping controversy as well, Tracy reports, and when asked if U.S. track stars Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, both of whom were previously banned for drug offenses, should be allowed to compete, Lilly King said no.



 
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