Rio de Janeiro (CNN)Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova has been one of the most divisive figures of the Olympic Games.
Having served a doping ban between October 2013 and February 2015, Efimova tested positive for meldonium earlier this year, only for her provisional suspension to be overturned by the sport’s governing body, clearing her to compete in Rio.
Booed when she took to the pool, Efimova drew the ire of American Lilly King, who labeled her rival a drug cheat after the two clashed during the women’s 100-meter backstroke event.
And after beating Efimova to the gold, King had more harsh words. This time, King was backed up by Michael Phelps, who commended his fellow American for speaking out on the subject.
Despite the hostilities with Team USA athletes, Efimova plans to return to her Los Angeles home. The 24-year-old has lived in the US for the last five years.
Asked whether she thought the report was politically motivated, Efimova said yes.
“It’s like Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia like all Russia — drink vodka, like have beer and drink doping and that’s it.”
On a personal level, the negativity has taken its toll.
Efimova admitted that at times she has wanted to give up; the support of her friends and family convince her to keep going. She said: “If I would be just by myself, I am pretty sure I (would) not seated here…”
And Efimova’s experiences at Rio have led to sleepless nights.
“It’s not only one night, trust me, like last three weeks I sleep for four-three hours a day.”