Mack Horton’s controversial refusal to share podium with "drug cheat" causes furore
Mack Horton has received a flurry of criticism online through his social media platforms from furious Chinese swimming fans.
The Australian swimmer sparked a heated debate after refusing to stand on the podium next to his Chinese rival "drug cheat" Sun Yang at the swimming championships on Sunday night.
The bold move of refusing to stand next to Yang by Horton made international headlines.
Sun underwent a three-month doping suspension in 2014 and is now being investigated again finishing first in the 400m freestyle – beating Horton by 0.73 of a second.
The Australian Olympian made his anger apparent by snubbing the medal podium where he would stand next to Yang – a clear protest to show he was unhappy with the Chinese swimmer being allowed to compete in the eight-day championship.
Silver medalist Mack Horton of Australia, gold medalist Sun Yang of China and bronze medalist Gabriele Detti of Italy.
The incredible move and bitter rivalry between the two has sparked an intense international debate after Yang accused Horton of disrespecting China.
“I was aware that the Australian athlete had dissatisfaction and personal feelings towards me,” Yang said via an interpreter.
“But it was unfortunate because disrespecting me is okay but disrespecting China was very unfortunate and I felt sorry about that.
“I’m aware of the rumours (about his alleged hammer attack). (But) I think this has been the greatest achievement in history for the Chinese (swimming) team.”
10-time world champion Yang is accused of smashing vials of his blood during a clash with drug testers last year, however, he was allowed to compete in the eight-day swimming event while he awaits a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in September.
Horton has not been shy of his feelings on Yang, suggesting he was a “drug cheat” at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Olympian admitted on Sunday he was unhappy with the results of the race.
“Frustration is probably it,” Horton said after the race.
“I think you know in what respect.”
Andrew Horton, father of the swimmer, told 3AW Radio their family have a “huge respect” for China.
“There’s a lot of commentary about China. We have huge respect for China. This is about ensuring that there are systems and processes in the sport that keep the sport clean,” he said.