Russian double Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov has moved to quell the row which broke out in the wake of his 200m backstroke triumph in Tokyo, after US rival Ryan Murphy suggested the competition was “not clean”.
Rylov beat defending champion Murphy to clinch the 200m title with an Olympic record time in Tokyo on Friday.
The triumph added to the 100m backstroke gold which the 24-year-old Russian won earlier in the week – a race in which Murphy had finished third.
Rylov – like his compatriots at the Tokyo Games – is competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) due to WADA sanctions which were imposed after allegations of widespread doping offenses by Russia.
Speaking after Friday’s race, Murphy was asked for his thoughts on doping in swimming.
“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,” Murphy said.
Some took that as a possible slur on Murphy’s Russian rivals, although the swimmer himself later clarified that his intentionwas “not to make any allegations here.”
Rylov himself has played down the row, saying he had been in touch with Murphy and that there were no hard feelings.
“Regarding today's news and Ryan Murphy's remarks. In general, we wrote to each other on Instagram, we personally explained everything to each other. There was a misunderstanding. They misunderstood his answer,” Rylov said in a video posted on the ROC’s Instagram page.
“He was asked in general for his opinion about doping in the swimming world. He replied that most likely, not everyone’s clean. In principle, he has every right to think so. Most likely, in some part it’s like that.
“But it was interpreted a little bit wrong – in the direction of our final in the 200 meters.
“He wrote me a private message on Instagram, said sorry for the misunderstanding that happened at the press conference. I posted a post, my opinion, what I think about it. It's okay, no problems, don't worry.”
Rylov also wrote a message – in Russian and English – on his own Instagram page where he asserted that the pair “both advocate that the sport should be clean.”
In comments after the race, the swimmer had emphasized that he undergoes regular testing, just like his rivals.
“I’ve always been for clean sport, I take doping tests, complete ADAMS (anti-doping administration and management system) and always swim with all my heart and with honesty," said Rylov.
“I’ve devoted my whole life to this, and I couldn’t forgive myself if I took something (illegal)."
Two-time world champion Rylov has enjoyed a dream week in Tokyo, scooping gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke finals and also picking up a silver in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
At the time of writing, the ROC team is fourth in the Tokyo medal table with 10 gold, 13 silver and nine bronze medals. China lead the way, followed by Olympic hosts Japan and then the US in third.