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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Lilly King Edition

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Lilly King won a huge gold for the USA last night. Kentucky swimmer goes for gold today.

Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Quickies.

Today’s lead story is about an Indiana University swimmer, Lilly King, who won the gold medal yesterday in the Rio Olympics, and after doing so called out her Russian competitor, silver medalist Yulia Efimova, who had failed two doping tests in recent history and served a 16-month suspension.

Also notable was the failure of King to congratulate Efimova, whom she basically ignored before and after the event. The post-event news conference was apparently a high-stress affair:

In a tense, 15-minute post-race news conference, Efimova was visibly strained. Asked if she thought it was mean of the Americans not to congratulate her, the Russian said she understood. King said she was "in the moment" and celebrating with Meili.

"Also, if I had been in Yulia’s position, I would not have wanted to be congratulated by someone who wasn’t speaking highly of me," King said. "So, if she wished to be congratulated, I apologize. She had a fantastic swim, and I always look forward to racing her."

I confess, I’m not totally comfortable with King’s reaction. Even while making a statement that needs to be made, it’s better if we can find a way to do it graciously, and in my view, King didn’t quite pull that off when she overtly shunned Efimova like that. To be fair to her, it would be difficult even for an experienced hand to balance the two, and she is very young.

Don’t get me wrong — Efimova is a demonstrated past cheater from a team full of them. I think a strong argument can be made that any Russian athlete who had positive tests in the last four years, given their current entanglement with performance-enhancing drugs, should’ve been banned from the Olympic games. That would have included Efimova, obviously. The IOC (an ethically compromised, arguably corrupt organization in its own right) apparently did not agree, though.

It’s hard to be tough on athletes who work their butts off all their lives to win competitions fairly without chemical enhancement when they rightly assail drug use. From that perspective, King’s lack of decorum can certainly be forgiven or at least understood, and her strong message against illegal enhancement certainly can’t be repeated often enough.

Congratulations to her and the rest of the medalists, Efimova as well. And I don’t say this often, but congratulations to the Indiana Hoosiers swimming team for producing a gold medalist.

As for Efimova, perhaps the bitter boos and hisses she received from the Rio crowd will drive home the point that cheaters may in fact sometimes win, but those victories will be hollow and bereft of respect. In a word, such victories are worthless beyond the value of the metal and money.

Tweets of the Morning

I don’t really know what to say. Good luck?

I’m calling this one a tie.

I nominate this guy for a Darwin award honorable mention. Any seconds?

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