Mack Horton: ‘My Position Remains Firm on Fair Competitions’

Australian swimmer Mack Horton decided to break the silence in regards to his teammate’s failed drug test results. The week before, Australian swimmer Shayna Jack posted a two-page long statement commenting on her positive results from a recent drug test.

“I did not and would not cheat and will continue to fight to clear my name,” Shayna Jack said on social media.

Horton declared that his position remained firm after hearing the disappointing news regarding his teammate:” I was disappointed to learn late yesterday that a fellow Dolphins team member recently returned with a positive A sample, I applaud the decision to immediately withdraw the athlete in question from further competition until this matter is resolved.”

Horton’s comment came shortly after he refused to share the podium with a Chinese swimmer Sun Yang. The confrontation between Horton and Sun has gone beyond personal and reached a national level, since Sun Yang alleges Horton, together with other swimmers, of disrespecting his nation.

Sun has several prior records of using doping and being involved in suspicious activities, including a three-month suspension back in 2014 and destruction of blood samples in 2018 to resist what Sun called “unauthorized investigators”.

According to Chinese media, several Australian swimmers declined to comment on Shayna Jack’s failed drug test results. Chinese state media are calling this ‘the Australian hypocrisy’ and use the disgraced Australian swimmer as an example to justify the controversies surrounding Sun.

In 2016, Mack Horton confronted Sun Yang after winning a gold medal in the 400m freestyle race in the Rio Olympics, calling him a drug cheat. Following those comments, Horton was massively cyberbullied by Chinese language bots and angry Internet users on his social media.

Doping has been a serious issue affecting the fairness of swimming competitions. A simple search on Google or Wikipedia reveals dozens of notable athletes who were involved in doping scandals. In addition to Sun Yang, several other Chinese swimmers, including the once immensely popular Ning Zetao, top Chinese backstroker Ouyang Kunpeng, and 2008 Beijing Olympian Li Zhesi.

FINA boss Cornel Marculescu has suggested that Mack Horton’s issue with Sun Yang was “probably more a personal issue than a doping issue”. While FINA is trying to downplay the ongoing tension between Sun Yang and Mack Horton, neither of the two athletes are showing signs of backing down.

With words exchanged over social media and in the swimming pools, Sun Yang might have won the support of those inside his native country, but he is gradually losing support from fellow swimmers. As Sun Yang is still pending investigations from the World Anti-Doping Agency, his fate in the 2020 Olympics remains uncertain.