Olympic champion Mack Horton has renewed his rivalry with Sun Yang, Chinese Olympic and world-record-holding competitive swimmer, ahead of the World Swimming Championships in Budapest.
Horton dismissed Yang as a drug cheat and remarked there is no rivalry between him and the Chinese swimmer. The Australian swimmer said he thinks it is a rivalry between clean athletes and athletes who have tested positive but there should be some good racing. Horton caused a sensation at the 2016 Games when he slammed Yang, the first Chinese man to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming, by saying he had no time or respect for drug cheats before he went on to upset the Chinese champion in the 400m freestyle gold medal race. Horton said his Rio win over Yang was a win for the good guys, referring to the Chinese swimmer serving a ban of three months who had tested positive for a banned stimulant in 2014.
The swimming team of China demanded an apology from Horton at the Rio Games. Chinese team manager Xu Qi remarked we have been noticing what has been said in the past two days by Horton, who launched a malicious personal attack on Sun Yang. Qi added it is proof of a lack of good manners and upbringing.
Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller then defended Horton by remarking there will be no apology. Chiller remarked Mack obviously has very strong views about the need for clean sport, as every single one of us does and went on to comment that we have no intention of making an apology. The Australian chef de mission had then remarked Horton would not be too fazed by the Chinese swimmer controversy.
Yang was banned for a period of three months in May 2014 by the Chinese Swimming Association. This was after he tested positive for Trimetazidine, a stimulant, which had been added to the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Agency four months earlier. The swimmer claimed the stimulant was prescribed to him by the doctor for treating heart palpitations he has suffered since 2008.
Horton remarked he would not hesitate from calling "a cheat as a cheat" again. The remarks of Horton against Yang were then echoed by French swimmer Camille Lacourt. The French swimmer had remarked swimming was becoming like athletics "with two or three doped in each final". Horton also found the support of trap shooting gold medalist Catherine Skinner and bronze medal-winning synchronized swimmers Maddison Keeney and Annabelle Smith who supported the anti-doping stance of Horton. Keeney remarked she is all for clean sport and added everyone should have an equal playing field.
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams also extended his support to Horton and remarked people say many things after competition and they are entitled to say those things. The IOC spokesman said the International Olympic Committee wanted to encourage freedom of speech but added the Olympics was also about giving respect to the rights of others to compete. Adams said there is a line somewhere there where people should be free to compete in tranquility.
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