Why swimmers are protesting against China's Sun Yang at world championships



Welcome to FTW Explains, a guide to catching up on and better understanding stuff going on in the world. You may have heard about controversy at the swimming world championships in the last few days, particularly with swimmers and podium protests, and you’re not sure what the story is here. We’re here to help.

The top swimmers around the globe are currently competing at the FINA world championships in South Korea. It’s the most important event of the year, and among the biggest names is Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, who’s also one of the most controversial athletes there.

Sun entered three events: the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle races. He won the 400 on Sunday and then the 200 on Tuesday (and the latter event had some controversy of its own, as the 27-year-old swimmer added another gold medal to his count). And after both events, Sun’s competitors protested his victory during the medal ceremonies.

So why is this happening? Let’s break it down.

Who is Sun Yang?

He’s a two-time Olympian, and at the 2012 London Games, he became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming, finishing first in the 400-meter freestyle. He then went on to win gold in the 1,500 meters (and set a world record), silver in the 200 and bronze in the 4×200 freestyle relay.

At the 2016 Rio Games, he won gold in the 200 and silver in the 400. And after winning the 200-meter free Tuesday, he now has 11 world titles, which is second in swimming history to only Michael Phelps.

(Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

However, in 2014, Sun was suspended for three months for taking a banned heart medication, which he said he didn’t know was illegal.

More recently, Sun has been accused of using a hammer to smash a vial of his blood while he was being drug tested last September. He has denied any wrongdoing and defended himself by saying the anti-doping representatives “were not properly accredited to carry out the out of competition tests”, The Washington Post reported. He was cleared by FINA, the sport’s international governing body, but not without additional objections.

As USA TODAY Sports explained:

The World Anti-Doping Agency has appealed FINA’s ruling, and Sun has asked for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to grant him a public trial in September to issue a final decision on the matter ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The first podium protest of Sun Yang at the 2019 world championships

In Sunday’s 400-meter freestyle, Sun finished first and was followed by Australia’s Mack Horton in second and Italy’s Gabriele Detti in third.

Horton — who has a history of confrontation and controversy with Sun, including calling him a “drug cheat” in reference to his 2014 suspension — protested Sun’s presence by not acknowledging him after they finished the race nor standing on the podium during the medal ceremony.

Horton explained he was frustrated, alluding to the fact that Sun was still allowed to compete at worlds.

How did Sun Yang respond?

“It was unfortunate because disrespecting me is OK but disrespecting China was very unfortunate and I felt sorry about that,” he said, via The Guardian.

Their feud stemming from Horton’s “drug cheat” comments led to tension between their respective countries at the 2016 Rio Olympics, during which Horton topped Sun in the 400-meter free.

The disqualification that gave Sun Yang another gold medal

Tuesday in the 200-meter freestyle, Lithuanian swimmer Danas Rapsys touched the wall first with Sun in second and Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto in third.

However, Rapsys was disqualified for moving on the block before the start, which bumped Sun up to gold and Matsumoto to silver. Great Britain’s Duncan Scott and Russia’s Martin Malyutin then finished in a tie for bronze.

The second podium protest of Sun Yang at the meet

Sun Yang, Katsuhiro Matsumoto (L), Martin Malyutin  and Duncan Scott (R). EPA-EFE/JEON HEON-KYUN

FINA issuing a warning to Horton in a statement — it urged him and others “not use FINA events to make personal statements or gestures” — didn’t stop Scott from also staging a protest.

Scott did not shake Sun’s hand during the medal ceremony and would not pose for photos with the race’s default winner. Sun shouted in Scott’s direction before the Chinese anthem was played, NBC Sports reported.

Afterward, Sun confronted Scott about his protest:

And here you can actually hear part of what Sun said:

How do other swimmers feel about Sun Yang being able to compete?

While fans are viciously split on social media, Horton received a lot of support from his teammates and competitors following his podium protest Sunday, The Guardian reported. American breaststroker Lily King — a vocal critic of athletes caught doping — said of the response to Horton’s protest:

“When we walked into the dining hall, he walked in after us and like the whole dining hall erupted in applause so it was pretty great to see the athletes united on his stance and supporting him as well. I don’t think anyone at FINA’s going to stand up for the athletes so the athletes have to stand up for themselves.”

But Sunday’s bronze-medal winner in the 400, Gabriele Detti, doesn’t seem bothered by any of it. He said, via The Washington Post:

“If he’s here, he can [swim], so I try to beat him. … All the rest, I don’t care.”

nt”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js



Via OverwatchWire


Like it? Share with your friends!

What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
0
hate
confused confused
0
confused
fail fail
0
fail
fun fun
0
fun
geeky geeky
0
geeky
love love
0
love
lol lol
0
lol
omg omg
0
omg
win win
0
win
Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Poll
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Story
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
List
The Classic Internet Listicles
Countdown
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Meme
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Video
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Audio
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Image
Photo or GIF
Gif
GIF format