Mack Horton to cop official warning for Sun Yang protest at World Championships

Update July 23, 2019: Australian swimmer Mack Horton is set to receive an official warning from FINA for his protest at the World Championships.

Horton refused to stand on the podium next to China’s Sun Yang, or even shake hands with him, because Yang had previously been caught doping.

Yang is also under investigation for smashing vials of his blood samples with a hammer in front of testers, though was cleared to compete in the World Championship event in South Korea.


Mack Horton’ protest sparked world wide controversy, with many Australian Olympians coming out in support of the young star.

Both Horton and Swimming Australia will receive an official warning from FINA, who say while they respect free speech, this protest wasn’t conducted in the right context.

“As in all major sports organisations, our athletes and their entourages are aware of their responsibilities to respect FINA regulations and not use FINA events to make personal statements or gestures.

“The matter over which Mack Horton was allegedly protesting is currently under review by CAS and therefore it is not appropriate for FINA to prejudice this hearing by commenting further,” a statement read.

Earlier July 22, 2019: AUSTRALIAN swimmer Mack Horton has sparked controversy after choosing not to stand on the podium after controversial Chinese star Sun Yang won gold in the 400m freestyle at the world titles in South Korea.

Sun claimed the victory over Horton by 0.73 to claim his fourth- straight 400m freestyle title on Sunday.

But it was what happened during the medal ceremony that has made the headlines.

Horton has made it clear he was not happy Sun had been allowed to compete, after previously serving a doping ban and awaiting an appeal on another controversy.

The 10-time world champion is accused of smashing vials of his blood with a hammer during a clash with testers last year but was surprisingly allowed to compete in the event as he awaits a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in September.

At the medal ceremony on Sunday, Horton was quick to collect his silver before standing back and refusing to share the podium with Sun as he stood with bronze medallist Gabrielle Detti.

Horton hasn’t been shy about his feelings on Sun, previously labelling him a “drug cheat” at the Rio Olympics.

The Aussie admits he wasn’t happy with having to compete against Sun, let alone come second.
But Horton was clearly not impressed, taking a swipe at Sun via the media before his podium protest.

“Frustration is probably it,” Horton said after the race.

“I think you know in what respect.”

Asked to describe his rivalry with Sun, Horton said: “I think you know what the rivalry is like.

“His actions and how it has been handled speak louder than anything I will ever say.”

Sun has since lashed out at Horton, accusing him of being disrespectful of China.

“I was aware that the Australian athlete had dissatisfaction and personal feelings towards me,” he said.

“It was unfortunate because disrespecting me is okay but disrespecting China was very unfortunate and I felt sorry about that.”

Horton’s father, Andrew, has told 3AW those allegations are far from the truth.

“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.

Fellow Australian swimmer Cate Campbell also backed Horton through her social media, posting on a story on her Instagram saying “Taking a stand for clean sport. @mackhorton we salute you”.