‘Team Mack’ unite as swimmers turn backs on Sun
AUSTRALIAN Mack Horton was the first to shun controversial Chinese swimmer Sun Yang on the medal dais and there appears to be plenty more rage from the swimming community still to come.
The latest to take a stand was British swimmer Duncan Scott who provoked a furious response from Sun when he staged a silent protest after the medal ceremony for the 200m freestyle.
While both Horton and Swimming Australia received formal warnings after the Australian refused to join Sun on the rostrum after the medal ceremony, swimmers around the world have been united in supporting Horton's stance, affording him a standing ovation when he walked into the dining hall at the athlete's village.
"I'm team Mack," said Scott. "If (Sun) can't respect our sport, then why should I respect him?
"I think a lot of people, everyone in swimming, got behind what Mack did. Hopefully this will happen in more events."
Scott and Horton's actions have also received the backing of world breaststroke champion Adam Peaty.
Peaty said he had a problem with Sun, who was booed when he sat on his lane rope and celebrated his surprise 200m win while a shattered Rapsys left the pool.
"If people are booing him it's for a reason," Peaty said of Sun.
"He (Sun) should be asking himself now 'should I really be in this sport when people are booing me?' "And if I was swimming (against Sun) I wouldn't even get on the podium for that matter."
American breaststroker and anti-doping crusader Lily King applauded Scott for taking a stance against the scourge of doping and hopes his actions will inspire others to act.
"It's really just been Mack and I standing up and taking the shots on doping and what FINA's doing to control that," she said.
"But now I think we're starting to see it really take over with other swimmers so personally I'm thrilled to see other athletes take it up for themselves."
Sun Yang to Duncan Scott: "You're a loser. I'm a winner." pic.twitter.com/W1AhD6XekV— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) July 23, 2019
The sporting public was given a terrifying insight into Sun Yang's notorious temper last night when the hot headed Chinese swimmer exploded at the world championships.
Even swimming's world governing body FINA, which has long been accused of turning a blind eye to Sun's infamous tantrums, was forced to issue him with an official warning after he blew his top.
In one of the most extraordinary meltdowns in sporting history - which happened in full view of the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach - Sun unleashed his full fury on Scott after the Scotsman's protest.
Furious at being snubbed after he had been promoted to gold when the race winner, Lithuania's Danas Rapsys, was disqualified for a false start, Sun charged towards Scott and shook his fist before pointing his finger in the bronze medallist's face and calling him "a loser."
To his credit, Scott kept his cool to stop the incident from escalating as the crowd booed Sun but he was also issued with a warning for "inadequate behaviour."
The astonishing blow-up came just two days after Australia's Mack Horton refused to join Sun on the podium after the 400m freestyle final in protest at FINA's decision to allow the controversial Chinese freestyler to compete at the world championships,
Already convicted once for a doping offence, Sun is facing an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport after he escaped with a caution for using a hammer to destroy vials containing his own blood before they could be tested for drugs.
Sun Yang gets in bronze medalist Duncan Scott's face after the 200m freestyle medal ceremony (Sun won gold after Lithuanian Danas Rapsys was DQed for a false start). Scott and Sun did not appear to shake hands, and Sun shouted in Scott's direction earlier in the ceremony. pic.twitter.com/0ilhiSorqt— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) July 23, 2019
He denies any wrongdoing and has requested an open hearing to "clear his name."
South African Chad le Clos, runner-up to Sun in the 200m freestyle at the 2016 Olympics, said: "It's good that people are taking a stand - I want my gold medal back from Rio and (fourth-placed) James Guy should get his bronze, because it shouldn't be allowed to have people cheating in sport."
Scottish swimmer Cameron Brodie was on Scott's side as were former British stars Lizzie Simmonds and Karen Pickering, as well as American Ryan Held.
A tough message for FINA but a stark reminder that athletes invest far too much to stand on a playing field that they don’t perceive to be absolutely level.— Lizzie Simmonds (@LizzieSimmonds1) July 23, 2019
Warning letters, fines and threats can’t erase the pictures and the support of the swimming community.#Gwangju2019
Well done @Dunks_Scott @_mackhorton for standing up for all clean athletes. Shame on @fina1908 for letting this happen to the sport – looking forward to watching CLEAN athlete’s race at the ISL. It’s also and worth shaming Sun Yang’s sponsors – good role model @speedo ?— Robbie Renwick (@RobbieRenwick) July 23, 2019