Boom! American swimmer Lilly King bested Russia’s Yulia Efimova in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke at the Rio Olympics on Monday, August 8, putting the athletes’ finger-wagging battle to rest once and for all.
Efimova, who was the reigning world champion, had been initially barred from the Olympics due to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. (She served a 16-month suspension for dope use that ended in 2015.) But it was mysteriously announced last Saturday that she would be defending her title — and King had more than a little to say about that.
“You know, you’re shaking your finger No. 1, and you’ve been caught for drug cheating,” King told NBC after Efimova won the first semifinal race and mocked the 19-year-old Indiana University student’s signature celebratory finger wave. “I’m just not, you know, not a fan.” She was also caught wagging her finger “no” at a screen featuring her rival’s face (a clip that the internet has fallen in love with).
To prove her point, she made sure to beat her nemesis in the next race, and of course, she won the final showdown, a victory that inspired her to pound her fist twice in the 24-year-old Russian swimmer’s lane. In an after-race interview, King, who set a new record with her 1:04:93 time, said, “It’s incredible, just winning a gold medal, and knowing I did it clean.”
King isn’t the only one who’s made her voice heard. During a press conference the week before, Michael Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 23 medals, shared his disappointment with the prevalence of doping at the games. “We’ve had this problem for how many Olympics now? It seems every time it’s something that comes up,” he said. “It’s sad. That’s really what it is. It’s really sad that we can’t control it, that somebody who is in charge cannot control this.”
He also added, “I think I can honestly say as well that in my career I don’t think I’ve ever competed in a clean sport.”