World reacts to swimming feud's explosive twist
The world has thrown its support behind British star Duncan Scott after he became the latest swimmer to protest against Sun Yang at the world championships in South Korea.
Sun won gold in the men's 200m freestyle on Tuesday night, claiming the top honour after Lithuania's Danas Rapsys was disqualified for movement on the starting blocks.
Scott - along with Russia's Martin Malyutin - took home the bronze in a dead heat but he refused to pose for photos on the podium alongside Sun or shake his Chinese rival's hand.
Scott's stand follows the lead set by Aussie Mack Horton, who lit the fuse for a fiery meet by protesting against Sun after the men's 400m freestyle final.
Horton and other swimmers are upset Sun - who served a three-month doping ban in 2014 - is being allowed to compete while he awaits a hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to determine whether he will be sanctioned for allegedly smashing vials of his own blood when visited by drug testers last year.
While Sun was initially found not-guilty by an independent panel convened by swimming's governing body FINA, the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) appealed that verdict and it's clear plenty in the sports community are backing Scott and Horton's calls for justice when it comes to clean competition.
'ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING': SWIMMING WORLD REACTS
Fellow swimmers lauded Scott for having the bravery to stand in solidarity with Horton even as Sun unleashed, shouting at the Brit on the podium and confronting him as the swimmers walked off the pool deck, reportedly calling the bronze medallist a "loser".
Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser condemned Sun's attack on Duncan. "It was absolutely disgusting," Fraser told Nine. "He's not a good sport and he shouldn't be swimming."
Many have used Sun's furore to call out FINA for allowing him to continue swimming before his CAS hearing in September as they demand the governing body take stronger action when it comes to ensuring the sport is clean.
BRUCE MCAVANEY: I support Mack Horton. I'm really cross with FINA. I think anything with Sun Yang needed to be resolved before the World Championships.— SEN SA 1629 (@1629senSA) July 23, 2019
Former Aussie Olympian Maddie Groves, who praised Horton earlier in the week, showed the same appreciation for Scott, saying he was courageous to protest knowing Horton had been warned by FINA for doing the same thing.
"Very brave from Duncan Scott. He has done that knowing that Mack was handed a warning. Did it anyway, true champion," Groves wrote on Twitter.
Another ex-Australian swimmer, Melanie Wright (nee Schlanger), responded to Scott's protest on Twitter by saying: "I hope FINA and the world anti-doping authorities are watching the tide swell. More needs to be done and the athletes have had enough. Bravo."
British star Adam Peaty was in Scott's corner too. "He (Sun) should be asking himself now should he really be in the sport when the people were booing him," Peaty said.
"I think the most important thing as a sportsperson is you have the right to a voice and Duncan showed his voice and so did the crowd.
"If the fans aren't wanting him (Sun) I don't even know why he's here."
'I WANT MY GOLD MEDAL BACK'
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."
American Lilly King, who let rip at Sun and FINA doping controls earlier this week, beat Russian rival Yulia Efimova - another former convicted doper - to retain her women's 100m breaststroke crown and voiced her support for Horton and Scott.
"Personally I'm thrilled to see other athletes standing up for what they believe in," King said. "The athletes are starting to stand up for themselves and stand up for what they believe in so, I commend them. That's incredibly brave."
SOCIAL MEDIA LIGHTS UP
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
Former Australian discus thrower Benn Harradine added on Twitter: "Nice to see others also supporting the stance and keeping the heat on."
SCOTT RESPONDS AS SWIMMERS WARNED
Scott said he protested because Sun doesn't deserve the respect of his peers. "I'm team Mack," he told the BBC. "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."
When Sun confronted Scott as they walked away from the podium and off the pool deck, the newly minted world champion reportedly said: "You're a loser. I'm winning, yes."
Sun is certainly winning races - having scooped up his second gold medal of the World Championships and eyeing off a third in the 800m - but it's clear his rivals are winning over more fans as the rest of the world laps up Horton and Scott's protests.
FINA released a statement early on Wednesday morning saying it will send warning letters to Scott and Sun for their "inadequate behaviour".
"The FINA Executive met today in Gwangju (KOR) to analyse the situation occurred during the men's 200m free victory ceremony and has decided to send a warning letter to athletes Duncan Scott (GBR) and Sun Yang (CHN)," the statement read.
"Both competitors had an inadequate behaviour on this occasion, which is not acceptable in accordance with the FINA Constitution Rule C 12.1.3."
Speaking after the race, Sun focused on his effort in the water rather than any outside distractions.
"That my be my luckiest ever gold medal," Sun said of the 200m final. "But fortune rewards those who work hard and I've been working so hard for this.
"My victory was because of my hard work. I continued to keep fighting, I didn't give up when I was in second place.
"Our training and persistence are paying off. I have been persistent and I kept on training to get this result."
HOW CHINESE MEDIA REPORTED LATEST CONTROVERSY
The Chinese media was keen to downplay the second controversial incident to rock Sun at the World Championships. China Daily and the China News Service made no mention of Scott's actions or Sun's response, instead using a short article supplied by national news agency Xinhua to provide a brief recap of the race.
The South China Morning Post addressed the scandal, saying Sun "continues to draw controversy every time he enters the pool".
The Global Times ran an article saying Scott "completely blanked Sun on the podium".
BOOS HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR
Sun may have been appreciative of the Chinese supporters in the stands, thanking them after his latest victory but he was hardly feeling the love from other fans.
Sun celebrated on the lane rope when it was confirmed he'd been bumped up to the gold medal position following Rapsys' disqualification, but few others were willing to celebrate with him.
Boos rang out as plenty of spectators ripped into Sun for what they perceived to be a lack of humility given the fashion his win had come in, and the crowd turned on him again when it came time for his crowning moment.
There were more boos on the podium but they transformed into cheers when fans realised Scott was imitating Horton by launching a protest of his own.
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
The situation regarding the medal ceremonies involving Sun Yang, how else do swimmers get FINA to listen to them other than making a stand at the federation’s showpiece event? At some point surely FINA will have to listen and act to protect the rights of clean athletes 🙏— Karen Pickering MBE (@Karen_Pickering) July 23, 2019
Swimmers who medal vs Sun Yang should break the podiums with hammers.......😅— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) July 23, 2019
Duncan Scott and Mack Horton take a bow.— Bradd Dalziell (@bradddalziell18) July 23, 2019