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Efimova is a poor poster child for Russian scandal

Efimova is a poor poster child for Russian scandal

"You'd see things completely change". No American is ranked in the top 10 in the world in the event. That's where we are right now, where a heathy dash of patriotism buoys the sport to life. He also continued a streak of US dominance in the backstroke, which Americans have won in the past six summer Olympics. It's how she got there - and against whom.

But the brash 19-year-old from IN was much more than that on an electric night at the Olympic pool, where she held off Russian Yulia Efimova IN a 100-meter breaststroke showdown that was loaded with overtones of a new doping Cold War.

They ruled that "she clearly was not" intentionally cheating and "she did not intend to enhance sport performance".

Relations between the sporting superpowers have been tense since USA calls for the entire Russian team to be banned from Rio following allegations of government-backed doping. For whatever reason, and it's always political, the International Olympic Committee didn't.

Efimova, the Russian who has been sanctioned for cheating, trailed just behind King at the finish line and narrowly edged King's teammate, Katie Meili, who won bronze.

"I once made a mistake and served my ban", she said, referring to a 16-month suspension incurred after testing positive for a banned steroid in 2014.

Russian Federation has been accused of state-sponsored doping, and Efimova faced two bans for using performance-enhancing drugs before she was allowed to swim in Rio.

No doubt, that was Lilly King's take.

The Russian surged forward in the second half of the race and appeared to be catching her rival, but King finished powerfully in an Olympic record time of one minute 4.93 seconds, with Efimova 0.57 seconds behind. Well, to the TV screen in the waiting room, all of which was caught on camera.

Shine On Car Wash owner, Jeff Robb was a swimmer in college, so watching Lilly win the sport's highest honor is special for him.

"It's unfortunate that we have to see that and it's such a toss-up between sports and between countries".

Afterward, King joyfully slapped the water in Efimova's lane, largely ignored the silver medalist as they exited the pool and again as they stood together on the medal stand, and boasted in an awkward post-race news conference - during which Efimova was near tears, decrying the unfairness of the situation - of having delivered "a victory for clean sport".

She found herself down in fourth place at halfway as King shot in front before recovering during a strong second-half. Her candid behavior in sticking up for principles of fair play before and after she got in the pool for the gold-medal swim earned her a lot of positive media attention and respect.

So how Efimova is even at the Olympics defies belief.

Her rival said afterwards: "I'm just happy to be here - a week ago I didn't even know if I'd race, because I'm Russian". Our two best men's sprinters on the track team served suspensions for PED use. Several others have dodged allegations. "There are very few athletes who take the time to understand anti-doping until they are actually thrown into an anti-doping case because of a mistake that they make". Efimova settled for the silver, more than a half-second behind. So I'd caution all from feeling to self-righteous in this current cold war of words. Second, while this battle rages at the individual level, it's truly one of policy and ideology. Because of the scale of the corruption of the Russian government, "athletes are finding their voice to say 'enough is enough, '" he added. One could argue that in free democracies like the United States and Canada, individual training programs and coaches use a similar process. "But that was all I could do right now". But know she's not the problem. She's merely a symptom.Of course, in a couple of weeks, people will stop hating.

"Can we do more?"

Keith Strudler is the director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication and an associate professor of communication.

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