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American swimmers Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and Nathan Adrian reveal some surprising facts about Olympic competition.
USA TODAY Sports

RIO DE JANIERO — Any time an Olympian shatters a world record by such a large margin, questions are inevitably raised.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu lowered the women’s 400-meter individual medley world record — with an astonishing 4:26.36 at the Rio Olympics, besting the previous record that was set under a cloud of suspicion in 2012 by China’s Ye Shiwen by more than two seconds.

Shiwen’s record raised eyebrows back in London largely because of her final 50 split; her time was faster than that of Ryan Lochte, who won gold in the men’s 400 IM the same night. Her swim looked like even more of an outlier after her preliminary swim here in Rio on Saturday — her finishing time was more than 17 seconds slower than what she swam in London.

Hosszu, 27, bested that London time by a remarkable margin, beating American silver medalist Maya DiRado by more than five seconds Saturday night.  It was redemption after failing to medal in 2012 as the prohibitive favorite in the event, and it quickly raised questions on social media.

According to FINA’s website, Hosszu has been drug tested six times in 2016 – most recently on June 21. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency told USA TODAY Sports it has tested Hosszu three times out of competition in 2016 as well.

The former Southern Cal swimmer has also fought back against doping suspicions in recent years. Swimming World Magazine’s website posted an editorial alleging that, despite the fact she’d never failed a drug test, she ought to be the subject of a conversation about potential doping because of her endurance, versatility and all-around dominance. In November 2015, Hosszu filed a libel lawsuit against the parent company of the magazine and the writer of the piece, Casey Barrett.

On the second page of the civil suit, the crux of Hosszu’s argument was that it “comes in response to libelous and defamatory statements of the most damaging variety that can possibly be made about a professional athlete. … Claiming that she is taking performance enhancing drugs, and therefore cheating, as the explanation for her remarkable success over the last three years in vigorous competition around the globe. The defendants’ accusations are false. Nevertheless, their impact has been undeniably palpable, harmful, and distressing, whether taken alone or in the context of the story of Hosszu’s return to competition and renewed determination in the sport she has always loved.”

PHOTOS: SWIMMING AT THE RIO OLYMPICS