[UPDATED] Rio 2016 Olympics: Chinese netizens vent ire on Australian gold medalist swimmer over drug comments against Chinese opponent

By @vitthernandez on
Mack Horton
2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Final - Men's 400m Freestyle Final - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 06/08/2016. Mack Horton (AUS) of Australia celebrates winning gold medal. Reuters

It is just the fourth day of competition in Rio’s 2016 Summer Games, but the Brazilian city is definitely heating up not only from the hot bodies of athletes but also from controversies involving the competitors. One such controversy is the accusation by Australian swimmer Mack Horton against Chinese rival Sun Yang.

Horton suggested on Saturday that Sun is a "drug cheat" which infuriated Chinese netizens. Horton won the gold medal for the 400 metres freestyle on Satuday, while Sun – the London 2012 champion – took the silver medal.

Mashable reports that at the training pool, Horton ignored Sun and was heard telling reporters, “I don’t have time for drug cheats.” Sun tested positive in 2014 for a banned stimulant and served a ban. But Horton later said his remarks was deliberately made as a strategy to psych out the Chinese swimmer.

Sun Yang 2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Semifinal - Men's 200m Freestyle Semifinals - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/08/2016. Sun Yang (CHN) of China (PRC) reacts  Reuters/David Gray

Reuters reports that Horton’s comments resulted in more than 300,000 comments on the Australian swmmer’s Instagram post of his receiving the medal on the podium. Besides calls for Horton to apologise to Sun, there were a lot of insults and derogatory photos posted on his Facebook, accompanied by the hashtag #apologisetosunyang.”

Some commented that Australia’s swim team is not entirely clean since in 2013, its men’s freestyle relay team was suspended by the Australian Olympic Committee for using a banned sedative. It is not just the Chinese netizens but also the Chinese swim team which demanded an apology from Horton.

Update: There is a online petition with change.org for Horton to apologise to Sun. So far, the petition has 238 signatures out of 500 needed. The people behind the petition say they moved to the site after Horton reportedly closed all his social media accounts. There is also a YouTube video seeking Horton's apology, according to an email from a Mark Manson to IBT-AU. 

VIDEO: Australian Mack Horton makes a splash in Rio

Source: euronews