Lilly King's finger wag lights up internet, sparks drug-cheat debate

For King and Meilli, the result set off a celebration that King would later cite as part of the reason she didn't make a point to congratulate Efimova.

American swimmer Lilly King proved herself and backed up her fume against Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova when she won gold in 100-meter women's breaststroke at Rio Olympics on Monday.

"You wave your finger "No. 1" and you've been caught drug cheating".

Lilly King is an invaluable member of team US because of her boss swimming abilities, yes - but also because she's a master of shade.

King has become a cult figure in the US, where her battle with Efimova was portrayed as the latest in a line of US-Russia "grudge matches".

When Efimova won her heat, she wagged her finger as if to signal she was No 1, despite yet more jeers from the crowd.

The Russian, who was cleared to compete in Rio after a convoluted drugs case, triggered a chorus of boos when she was introduced and after the race as rival swimmers made their feelings known in no uncertain terms. "I'm not a fan", King said in an interview with NBC.

"I really don't know how I even reached the final".

Not only did King beat Efimova, she also took home a gold medal and notched an Olympic record time to boot. Add Russia and the IOC's ruling to deny any athlete who has previously doped into the Olympics into the equation, and the plot thickens. "For me it was very hard to swim today, and this is three weeks it's been like insane", she said.

King's accomplishment did not go unnoticed on social media, and her victory was met with an outpouring of support and jubilation. Efimova came in 0.53 seconds after King to claim the silver. Prior to the Rio Olympics, the 24-year-old Russian swimmer had served a 16-month suspension for doping.

Plenty agreed as the 24-year-old world champion from Russian Federation was showered with boos as she took to the blocks.

"I think the whole atmosphere is very odd", said Salnikov, president of the Russian Swimming Federation, who won four swimming gold medals in the 1980s during a period of U.S. "It would have really been the end of a fairytale, a disgusting dream, if I'd won gold. USATF follows and supports this concept, which is consistent with the policies of other sports and with the USA legal system".

Vanessa Coleman