Getty Images

Lilly King calls out Sun Yang, who swims at worlds amid doping case

Leave a comment

Lilly King continues to make her voice heard on doping issues in swimming.

King, three years after saying Russian rival Yuliya Efimova should have been barred from the Rio Olympics for a past doping offense, opined Friday on the latest controversy regarding Chinese superstar Sun Yang.

“I am not remotely comfortable with FINA’s approach to doping,” King said, two days before the world championships start in Gwangju, South Korea (TV schedule here). “They could start with not letting people who have smashed blood vials in tests compete in their meets. That’s really sketchy.”

King referred to a report, which first surfaced in January, that the 12-time Olympic and world champion Sun and his security guard used a hammer to smash a vial of the swimmer’s blood in a clash with drug testers last September.

FINA gave Sun a warning after the incident. The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed in March to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), seeking a stricter punishment. The CAS hearing is scheduled for September, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Oh good. Conveniently after World Championships,” was tweeted from King’s account Monday in reaction to the news.

Sun was also suspended three months in 2014 for a banned stimulant, though the punishment wasn’t announced by Chinese officials until after he served the time.

“I think all of us would say that we’re racing dopers,” King said, “and we shouldn’t really have to say that.”

King and Efimova are slated to go head-to-head in all three breaststrokes in Gwangju. King won the 50m and 100m breaststrokes at the last worlds in 2017, breaking both world records, while Efimova won the 200m breast. King is seeded first in all three events next week, while Efimova is No. 2 in all three.

“It’s a lot less tense in the ready room,” now, King said in May of the Efimova rivalry. “At some point, we grow up and move on.”

NBC Olympics Senior Researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Gwangju.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Katie Ledecky faces toughest tests yet at swim worlds

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!