Friday, May 24, 2024

‘Infuriating’: Mack Horton unloads on ‘failed system’ after Chinese doping scandal

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News of the positive tests emerged only last week.

Horton has been outspoken on the issue of drugs in sport and wants greater accountability from officials and agencies after the latest saga.

“People compete because they love to push themselves and race fairly,” Horton said. “The news compromises the integrity of sport in general, not just swimming. One of the greatest things about sport is the values and morals it instils in us all, the misalignment seen in this incident is jarring.

China’s Qin Haiyang (right) after winning a gold medal over Australia’s Zac Stubblety-Cook in the men’s 200m breaststroke final at the 2023 world championships.Credit: Getty

“We have global governing bodies in place for a reason. The expectation is that they set the tone for the sporting community to ensure a commitment to clean and equitable sporting endeavours.”

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Horton labelled his competitor, Sun, a “drug cheat” after the Chinese star served a three-month ban in 2014 for testing positive to TMZ.

Horton beat Sun in the men’s 400m freestyle final in Rio to claim a gold medal.

Three years later, Horton was involved in a silent protest at the 2019 world championships. The Australian refused to stand next to Sun on the medal podium after their 400m freestyle final because of his previous actions. Sun is serving a separate four-year ban for another anti-doping rule violation.

Horton did not want to speak specifically about Sun but said he felt deeply sorry for athletes who competed against any Chinese swimmers at the Tokyo Olympics who, months earlier, tested positive for a banned substance.

Australia’s women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team, mixed 4x100m medley relay team and Emma McKeon (100m butterfly) won medals in events behind Chinese swimmers who weren’t provisionally banned by WADA and China’s anti-doping agency (CHINADA).

“I feel for the deserving athletes who have missed out on the opportunity to race in finals on the world stage due to a failed system,” Horton said.

“I feel for the deserving athletes who have missed out on life-changing medal opportunities due to a failed system.

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“I feel for the deserving athletes at the centre of this episode. They are victim to a system which has disrespected sport in a bid to manipulate success.”

Zac Stubblety-Cook, who won a 200m breaststroke gold medal for Australia in Tokyo, lost his world record to Chinese swimmer Qin Haiyang last year.

Haiyang was one of the 23 swimmers caught up in the latest controversy.

“That’s up to WADA and that whole system,” Stubblety-Cook said on Saturday when asked about the latest reports. “I’m an athlete and I just have to trust the system.”

British breaststroke great Adam Peaty wrote on social media: “Who really benefits from the lack of transparency and secrecy? What happened to strict liability? Whether someone benefits or not, surely at this scale it proves it’s systematic? So disappointing from WADA.”

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