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Bronze medallist Britain's Luke Greenbank, gold medallist Russia's Evgeny Rylov and silver medallist USA's Ryan Murphy pose with their medals after the final of the men's 200m backstroke. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand /AFP via Getty Images

U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy raised questions about the presence of doping in swimming following a second-place finish in the men's 200-meter backstroke on Thursday.

Driving the news: Murphy, who won gold in the 200-meter backstroke race in Rio, said following his race: "At the end of the day, I do believe there’s doping in swimming. That is what it is."

  • Murphy, who sat near Evgeny Rylov, the Russian who beat him in the 200m backstroke, was asked if he thought the race was clean during a post-race interview.
  • "What’s frustrating is that you can’t answer that question with 100% certainty," Murphy said. "Over the years that has kind of come out. I can’t answer that question."
  • After the post-race interview that created a stir, Murphy sought to reframe his original answer. "I'm not accusing anyone of anything," he said outside the venue, according to Yahoo! Sports. "Congratulations, Evgeny,” he said. “I want Evgeny to get his due.”
  • Rylov for his part, said he did not think Murphy was accusing him of cheating. “Ryan has all the right to think what he does and say what he says. The time will tell. He didn’t accuse me of anything, so that’s why I don’t have anything against him," he said.
  • “I have always been for clean conditions (in the sport)," he said when asked if he races clean. "I always do my tests and I’m devoting my whole life to this. I don’t even know how to react to that.”

The big picture: Murphy did not accuse Rylov of cheating, nor did he object to Russian athletes competing in the Games. Russia has been accused by anti-doping regulators of running one of the most sophisticated doping schemes in the history of international sports.

  • "I don’t have time to get involved in this situation. But there’s a situation, and that’s a problem. I’m sorry that there’s a situation, but I don’t know enough about it to give a 100% certain answer," Murphy said.

Go deeper

By the numbers: N.J. close call

Data: NJ Secretary of State Office, AP, NYT; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Democrat Phil Murphy eked out a win to remain New Jersey's governor, yet most counties in his state swung right — just as in Virginia — when compared to 2020's Biden-Trump margins.

Why it matters: It was another unexpected alarm bell for Democrats nationally. Such massive swings at the state, county and state legislative levels suggest far more seats are in play in next year's midterms.

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Biden’s face mask campaign requires more imports from China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American mask manufacturers are getting whiplash, having gone from sleepy sector to mission-critical industry overnight — only to see sales collapse before now being suddenly in demand again.

Why it matters: As the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages, health experts now say Americans need legitimate N95 or KN95 masks to best protect themselves — not widely available fakes or less effective cloth masks.