Former Cal star Ryan Murphy, the 2016 Olympic champion in the 200 backstroke, was unable to successfully defend his title, finishing second in the 200 backstroke final in the Tokyo Olympics on Friday (Thursday in California).
Murphy finished in a time of 1:54.15, which was 0.88 of a second behind winner Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee, who also won the 100 backstroke earlier this week.
But Murphy will get more attention for what he said afterward.
Murphy was asked by a reporter in his post-race media session whether he had any concerns about his races regarding possible doping.
"I've got 15 thoughts, 13 of them would get me into a lot of trouble," said Murphy. "It is what it is. I try not to get caught up in that. It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year, that I am swimming in a race that's probably not clean and that is what it is.
"The people that know a lot more about the situation made the decision they did. 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.”
Murphy did not specify any swimmer, but the speculation focused on the Russian winner of the race.
Rylov was asked about Murphy's comments, and replied, "I don't understand this suggestion. I was concentrating on the result."
A Russian team spokesperson declined to comment on what Murphy said.
The ROC Twitter page responded with a post, according to msn.com. Translated the post read:
“How unnerving our victories are for some of our colleagues. Yes, we are here at the Olympics. Absolutely rightfully. Whether someone likes it or not. But you have to be able to lose.
“The old hurdy-gurdy again started the song about Russian doping. Someone is turning the handle diligently.
“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.”
Murphy seemed to be trying to alleviate the controversy with a subsequent post on his Instagram site, according to the Los Angeles Times: “Enjoy competing against you,” he wrote above a picture of him and Rylov preparing to start. “Looking forward to many more great races in the future. Congrats on the win.”
Whether swimming in the Olympics is doping-free has been an underlying issue throughout the Olympics because there had been lapses in drug enforcement throughout the world due to the pandemic and because of the decision to allow Russian athletes to participate in the Games despite a widespread doping scandal in that country.
Murphy won gold in the 100 and 200 Rio finals but Rylov won both titles in Tokyo.
Here is the finish of the 200 backstroke:
Murphy was hoping to win a second straight gold medal in the 200 backstroke and become the seventh straight American to win that event in the Olympics. Instead he will take home a silver medal in the 200 backstroke after capturing a bronze in the 100 backstroke earlier in the week. He won gold medals in both backstroke events five years ago in Rio.
Rylov ended the United States' streak of dominance in the men's backstroke after Americans won gold medals in both the the 100 and 200 backstroke in each of the past six Olympics.
Rylov had finished third in the 200 backstroke in the 2016 Olympics with a clocking of 1:53.97, just 0.35 of a second behind Murphy's winning time of 1:53.62. Rylov had finished sixth in the 100 backstroke in 2016, nearly a second behind Murphy's winning time.
But this year the 24-year-old Rylov turned the tables on Murphy, who turned 26 earlier this month.
Murphy's time of 1:54.15 in the 200 this year was more than a half-second slower than his winning time in Rio. Meanwhile, Rylov improved his time by a half-second from his clocking in Rio.
Asked the reason it's so difficult to win the event in consecutive Olympics, Murphy said, "It's hard to get everybody's best shot."
Luke Greenbank of Great Britain finished third, edging out another Cal athlete, Bryce Mefford, for the bronze medal. Mefford finished in a time of 1:54.49, which was just 0.23 of a second behind Greenbank in a bid for a medal.
There may be more opportunities for the 22-year-old Medford, who was a senior at Cal this past year and arrived at Cal the year after Murphy's final season in Berkeley in 2017.
---Onetime Cal standout Abbey Weitzeil finished eighth in a field of eight swimmers in the women's 100 freestyle final. Her time of 53.23 was 1.27 seconds behind winner Emma McKeon of Australia.
---Tom Shields finished eighth in his semifinal heat of the 100 butterfly and did not advance to the final. He was timed in 51.99.
Golf interrupted again
For the second straight day, action in the men's Olympic golf competition was interrupted by dangerous weather.
Collin Morikawa had completed 13 holes and was sitting at 1 under par for the day and 3-under for the tournament, six strokes off the lead, when second-round play was suspended at 11:57 a.m. local time Friday, which was 7:57 p.m. Thursday in California.
Play resumed at 10:20 p.m. Pacific time Thursday. At that point, Morikawa had five holes to play in the second round, and Carlos Ortiz, the leader at the time of the interruption, had only completed seven holes in the second round. He is at 9-under for the tournament, but with a long way to go in the second round.
Barrett, USA rugby place sixth
Danny Barrett and his USA teammates finished sixth in the rugby sevens competition after dropping a 28-7 decision to South Africa in its final placing match. Barrett was in the starting lineup once again for the Americans.
Cover photo of Bryce Mefford and Ryan Murphy is by Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
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