Mack Horton Refuses To Stand On Podium With Chinese Swimmer Embroiled In Drug Controversy

"I Think You Know In What Respect"


Matt Bellotti

22 July 2019

Matt Bellotti

Article heading image for Mack Horton Refuses To Stand On Podium With Chinese Swimmer Embroiled In Drug Controversy

AAP

Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer Mack Horton has refused to stand on a podium next to Sun Yang after finishing second to the Chinese swimmer in the 400-metres freestyle at the World Championships in South Korea.

Sun claimed a record fourth-successive gold in the event but when the medal presentation came, the Aussie refused to join him on the podium.

Instead, Horton stood just behind and also asked not to have his photograph taken with Sun and the Italian bronze medalist, Gabriele Detti. After the ceremony, he shook hands with Detti but not Sun. 

When asked why he wouldn't participate in that aspect of the medal ceremony and how he was feeling, Horton said "Frustration. I think you know in what respect."

The World Anti-Doping Agency is currently challenging a decision by FINA to warn Sun over incidents relating to the doping control team's attempts to take blood and urine samples from the Chinese athlete at his home. WADA believe stronger sanctions are necessary given the serious nature of the incidents, reported to include smashing a vial of his blood, and Sun's controversial history. The South China Morning Post report that Sun faces a potential life ban from the sport.

"I don't think I need to say anything. His actions and how it has been handled speaks louder than anything I could say."

Sun commented to the media that "Disrespecting me was okay, but disrespecting China was unfortunate."

Sun and Horton have had a long-running feud. Horton is the only swimmer to have beaten Sun in the past eight years and defeated him to take ghold in the 400-metres freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympics. After that race Horton called Sun a "drug cheat" and he has clearly not stepped down from his stance.

Reaction to Horton refusing to take the podium has ranged from widespread, passionate support from numerous Australian swimmers and sportspeople, to Chinese social media users who ramped up their regular commenting on Horton's social media posts with emojis of snakes and varied abuse.

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