Two opponents have now protested against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang on the medal stand at the 2019 FINA world championships, and it appears he’s getting a little fed up with it.
Sun is not a popular man in the swimming world after an incident last year that put his career into question and revived doping suspicions around the three-time Olympic gold medalist and most accomplished swimmer in China’s history.
Two days after Australian swimmer Mack Horton refused to take the stand following Sun’s gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle event in Gwangju, South Korea, British swimmer Duncan Scott refused to shake Sun’s hand or pose with the medal group for photos following the 200-meter freestyle.
Sun mostly ignored Horton’s protest, but confronted Scott as the swimmers walked away from the podium.
“You’re a loser. I’m a winner,” Sun could be seen saying.
Sun emerged victorious from the 200-meter event after it was determined Danas Rapsys of Lithuania had finished first only after a false start. That gave the gold medal to Sun, and a split for bronze to Scott after initially finishing tied for fourth.
Sun Yang protests caused by drug testing incident
Sun is competing at the FINA world championships despite a hearing scheduled for next month that could end with him banned from the sport.
The hearing is centered around a bizarre incident last year that involved drug testers arriving at Sun’s home for blood and urine samples. Sun reportedly made the testers wait outside for an hour before letting them in, refused to give a urine sample, then questioned the credentials of the testers in a confrontation that lasted until 4 a.m.
Sun’s mother also reportedly ordered security guards to destroy a blood sample with a hammer. Sun had previously received a three-month suspension in 2014 after testing positive for banned stimulant trimetazidine.
Sun defended his actions by claiming that he feared the testers were “secretly taking pictures and videos of him.” That was good enough for FINA, which ruled that no doping violation had occurred and opened the door to him to compete in the world championships. The World Anti-Doping Agency responded by requesting a hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the matter that could potentially end the 27-year-old Sun’s career.
Clearly, the leaders of WADA weren’t the only ones angered by the ruling, and Sun is becoming frustrated by the icy reaction to his 10th and 11th world titles, the second-most in history behind only Michael Phelps, who has 26.
“He does quite a good job of making sure everyone continues to know about it,” Scott said, per The Associated Press. “So I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
FINA admonishes both swimmers
After the protest, FINA soon announced it had sent a warning letter to both Sun and Scott after the incident with a short statement:
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).
Both competitors had an inadequate behaviour on this occasion, which is not acceptable in accordance with the FINA Constitution Rule C 12.1.3.
Horton also received a warning letter after his protest, with FINA saying his protest was not in the right context. Sun also complained about Horton’s protest with reporters, saying it disrespected China.
"I'm team Mack," Scott said, according to 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.”
Scott also reportedly said he hopes Sun is protested again, which could occur Wednesday when Sun is scheduled to compete in his final event, the 800-meter freestyle.
While FINA isn’t amused by the protests against Sun, many of its swimmers have supported Horton and Scott. Horton reportedly received a standing ovation in the athletes’ village dining hall after his protest, while Scott seemed to receive a loud cheer from the athletes section of the swimming center.
“FINA has currently done more to reprimand Mack Horton than they have done to reprimand Sun Yang,” American swimmer Lilly King said Tuesday.