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Swimming Gets A New Controversy With Lilly King's Vague Disqualification

Photo: Lee Jin-man (AP)

American breaststroke specialist Lilly King comfortably won the 100-meter race, her best event, at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, but she was denied a chance at the 200-meter gold after she was disqualified from a preliminary heat. She only found out after she won her heat last night.

King said she wasn’t initially told why she was booted. According to swimming’s governing body FINA, King was DQ’d for a non-simultaneous touch on the first turn. USA Swimming immediately protested and appealed the decision, but it was held up after a review process. FINA has not released any video, underwater or otherwise, to support its decision, and video of King’s turn (she’s in lane 4) does not show anything especially egregious.

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As SwimSwam noted, King has unorthodox turning form, as her two wrists are often at different angles when she touches. Even still, it would be difficult to imagine making this call in real time with any certainty:

FINA has been enmeshed in a series of overlapping controversies this week, as it has formally warned both Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and several of his rivals for bickering and protesting. Several swimmers, including King, have been critical of FINA for its handling of the doping accusations against Sun. “FINA has currently done more to reprimand Australian Mack Horton than they have done to reprimand Sun Yang,” she said after Horton refused to share the podium with Sun earlier this week.

Even if FINA won’t give an explanation, King didn’t seem too broken up about the DQ.

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