Athletes like to talk trash. Let's call it a byproduct of their competitive drive. Add to that an international stage, the ubiquity of social media, and reporters hungry for drama, and you have a recipe for rivalry. Here are the biggest feuds we've seen so far in Rio.
Lilly King vs Yulia Efimova: American swimmer King called out the twice busted, and once suspended, Russian swimmer saying she should not be allowed to compete in Olympics due to past history of performance enhancing drugs. Efimova responded by calling the accusations unfounded and said she felt like it was a Cold War atmosphere. She finished with silver to Kings gold in the 100 meter breaststroke.
Lilly King vs U.S. Track and Field team: The ever forthright King called out the top sprinters on the U.S. Track team Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin to be banned from the Olympics. Both runners were suspended for past doping offenses. Team USA had no response, but chances are King won’t be welcomed with open arms at the track oval.
Yulia Efimova vs Michael Phelps: In response to criticism about her own doping past, Russian swimmer Efimova questioned whether Michael Phelps should be allowed to compete since he has been suspended by USA Swimming for a DUI, and marijuana use. Phelps laughed off the comments on his way to five gold and one silver medals.
Camille Lacourt vs Sun Yang: After French Swimmer Lacourt finished fifth to Gold Medal winner Yang of China, he said in an interview that Yang “pisses purple,” and seeing him on the podium “makes him want to be sick.” Yang served a three-month suspension in 2014 for taking a banned stimulant. The Chinese team has demanded an apology.
Jennie Johansson vs Yulia Efimova: Sweden’s Johansson missed out making the finals for the 100-meter breaststroke by one spot when she finished ninth. Upon exiting the pool she posted on Instagram that the lane she should be swimming in was taken by “someone who doesn’t deserve it.”
So much love for this sport, I've cried a lot of tears tonight… It was so much fun swimming in the semi next to some great friends and true athletes, unfortunately I finished up 9th. My heart and my mind will still be swimming in that final tomorrow even if the actual lane is taken by someone that doesn't deserve it. Just want to thank you all for the support and I'm so happy that I've got such awesome people in my life! ❤ Looking forward to smash it in the relay with my ladies!
Michael Phelps vs Chad le Clos: Anyone who saw the footage from the ready room before the finals of the men’s 200-meter butterfly saw an uncharacteristically angry Phelps. His glares at main rival le Clos of South Africa will quickly become the stuff of legend. Phelps looked like he had a major score to settle, and he did, the South African had defeated him by .05 seconds for gold four years earlier. This time Phelps won, and le Clos finished fourth.
Islam El Shehaby vs Or Sasson: Following his first-round defeat in a judo match at the hands of Israel’s Sasson, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby refused to shake his opponent's hand. The fallout for him was swift as the Egyptian Olympic committee reprimanded him, and sent him home.
Mack Horton vs Sun Yang: Before their 400-meter freestyle final, Australian Mack Horton ignored Chinese swimmer Sun Yang during practice swims, and told the press, “I don’t have time or respect for drug cheats.” Yang served a suspension in 2014 for doping. The bad blood did not end after their race, which Horton won by 0.13 seconds, and both of them ignored each other on the podium.
China vs Australia: Fed up with accusations from Australian athlete Mack Horton that their swimmers are benefiting from a state-run doping program, the Chinese Team demanded an apology. When he refused to do so, their media called the country an “offshore prison,” that’s “on the fringes of civilization.” The fight is only getting uglier with the Australian swim team's website crashing due to Chinese hacker attacks.
Pauline Ferrand-Prévot vs Lizzie Armitstead: Leading up to the Rio Games, France’s Ferrand-Prévot criticized Britain’s Armitstead for missing three out-of-competition anti-doping tests, and British Cycling’s support of her. Armitstead's fiancé, Irish cyclist Phillip Deigan, a reserve for the Irish team, responded by firing off a tweet accusing the French rider of having an affair with a married man.
Giovanna Pedroso vs Ingrid Oliveira: When your own teammate kicks you out of your shared room in the Olympic Village, something has gone awry. Or you just had a “marathon night of sex,” the night before you were due to compete. That is the complaint that Brazilian diver Pedroso had with her synchronized diving teammate Oliveira. The two finished last in the 10 meter event.
Leander Paes vs Rohan Bopanna: Indian teammates Paes and Bopanna were already on thin ice leading up to their opening round doubles tennis match. They had been publicly feuding, not talking during practice, and arguing over room assignments. Things did not get any better when they lost in straight sets, ending their Olympic dream.
Lebanon vs Israel: Even before the Rio Games opened, there was a spat between these two teams. The head of the Lebanese delegation refused to allow the Israeli team to share their bus to the opening ceremonies. The International Olympic Committee reprimanded them and found alternative transportation for the Israelis.
Hope Solo vs Sweden: As the dust settled after their surprise loss to Sweden in the Olympics, a defeat that knocked the defending champions out, American goal tender Solo lashed out. “We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today,” she tweeted. Her opposite, Swedish goalie Hedvig Lindahl was quoted as saying “What she did was an act of panic.”
Mark Cavendish vs Sir Bradley Wiggins: These two British teammates have a love/hate relationship. Eight years ago after they were shut out of the podium in China, they ceased talking for several years, only to reunite again when they both raced professionally for the same team. When Cavendish was denied a chance to race for a gold medal in the team pursuit (he was first alternate, Wiggins was team leader) this year, he claimed it was because Wiggins “wanted to be the hero.”
Justin Gatlin vs Usain Bolt: American Gatlin won the gold medal in the 100-meter sprint in the Athens Olympics, and then promptly was hit with a four-year ban due to doping. In his absence, Bolt of Jamaica won the gold medal in China, and then defeated Gatlin head to head in London securing his second straight gold. Leading up to this year's race, both men were directing barbs at each other with Bolt saying that Gatlin “would feel his full wrath,” when they raced in Rio. He did, Bolt won his third straight gold medal.
The Russians vs Everyone: Starting with part of their team not being allowed to compete due to widespread doping, to the opening ceremonies, when their delegation was loudly booed, through every event when one of their athletes steps to the starting line, the Russian delegation has received a decidedly unfriendly reception at the Rio Games. Even though the Russian officials have defended their team, this feud does not look to end for a long time.