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Olympic Medalist Ryan Murphy: There's Not Enough Being Done to Fight Doping in Swimming

Jean Catuffe
  • In Tokyo, Murphy won a gold medal in the 4x100 medley relay, a silver in the 200m backstroke and a bronze in the 100m backstroke, bringing his own Olympics career medal count to six.
  • Murphy explained why he think doping remains a huge problem in the sport, and that there’s not enough being done to combat it.
  • “In the U.S. you can see exactly how many times myself or any of my teammates have been drug tested, and it’s not like that in other countries,” said Murphy.

American backstroke Olympian Ryan Murphy told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" that doping remains a huge problem in the sport, and that there's not enough being done to combat it. 

"In the U.S. you can see exactly how many times myself or any of my teammates have been drug tested, and it's not like that in other countries," said Murphy. "We simply have no idea what they are or are not doing in terms of fighting doping."

In Tokyo, Murphy won a gold medal in the 4x100 medley relay, a silver in the 200m backstroke and a bronze in the 100m backstroke, bringing his own Olympics career medal count to six.

On the heels of Murphy's silver medal swim in the men's 200-meter backstroke, Murphy placed a spotlight on doping concerns when he told reporters, "It is a huge mental drain on me throughout the year to know that I'm swimming in a race that's probably not clean."

Murphy clarified to host Shepard Smith that he "didn't call out a single athlete, or a single country, and that is how it was taken, and that is a little bit disappointing." 

Murphy told Smith that he's confident in Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and FINA's new executive director Brent Nowicki, when it comes to pushing swimming forward and away from doping.  

"Travis Tygart has been talking about this for years now, he's someone that spends every day on this subject, and if he's someone that's saying that potentially races aren't clean, that's an opinion I listen to, and then also, the new executive director of FINA, that's the governing body of swimming internationally, he told me to my face that he believes we have a long way to go in terms of cleaning up our sport from doping, so those two guys are really well-versed on this subject," said Murphy. "They're really motivated to clean-up our sport and really motivated to push our sport forward." 

FINA sent the following statement to CNBC via email:

"Doping is a worldwide problem in sport. It is FINA's responsibility to do everything possible to help combat this and protect clean athletes. This is why FINA President Husain Al-Musallam, since taking office two months ago, has made the prevention of doping in aquatics a priority in his reforms. FINA worked closely with the International Testing Agency (ITA) to ensure that its out-of-competition testing for Tokyo 2020 has been in line with that for Rio 2016, despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic. And, of course, the aquatics athletes in Tokyo, including all medal winners, are regularly tested. However, as FINA has made clear to all our athletes, we are committed to doing more and further strengthening our anti-doping practices with more resources and greater transparency. We will continue to do all we can to ensure a level playing field for our athletes." 

Tygart sent the following statement to CNBC via email:

"The athlete voice is an important part of an effective global anti-doping system and we commend athletes like Ryan who have the courage to point out the gaps in the system that make all of us question the fairness of international competitions. We will continue to work with athletes to give them a true voice at the WADA decision-making table.

Unfortunately, we've seen this horror film already – where the Russian state-sponsored doping program walks free and Russia wins while the IOC and WADA leaders attempt to pull the wool over the world's eyes by claiming Russia is 'banned.' All can now see this 'ban' once again for the farce that it is. It is barely a 'rebrand' and will do nothing to stop the corruption in Russia and likely will embolden others willing to win by any means. This surely has to serve as yet another call for a new, honest global anti-doping system that lives by the Olympic values and has the courage to stand up for fair sport. It's a doomed system that allows, as it has here, one nation to make a mockery of the Games by their thirst for medals over values.

Of course, it is not fair to call into question any individual athlete's performance and all are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise. The world including athletes from Russia has been let down and deserve better. The leaders and sport authorities in Russia who have escaped consequence have failed their athletes by perpetrating the original fraud beginning years ago and continuing to cover-up that fraud. We have called for all tests on individual athletes in all sports from all countries be made public as our U.S. athletes tests results are, but especially Russia given its proven corrupt system. The world deserves to know whether anything has really changed in Russia and how many more times at the world's biggest stage we are going to potentially re-watch this fraud."  

The Russian Olympic Committee did not immediately return CNBC's request for comment.

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