‘You’re a loser’: Sun slams new protest
Controversial Chinese swimmer Sun Yang won World Championship gold in the men's 200 metre freestyle after Lithuania's Danas Rapsys was disqualified, but the real drama came after the race when Sun labelled one rival a "loser" for protesting against him.
Just days after Australian Olympic champion Mack Horton refused to stand on the dais with Sun because of concerns about his alleged doping, British counterpart Duncan Scott took a similar stance.
Scott, who dead-heated with Russia's Martin Malyutin for bronze, snubbed Sun's offer of a handshake and also declined to stand next to the Chinese star on the podium for the customary photo of the medallists as the crowd roared its approval.
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A furious Sun shouted at Scott from the top step of the podium before the Chinese national anthem was played, and then the tension escalated when they were walking off the pool deck.
Stepping off the podium, Sun turned around and waited for Scott to meet him, raising his arms and pointing his finger at his rival. Sun was heard telling the British star: "You're a loser. I'm winning, yes."
RELATED: Why star refused to join protest
Sun Yang was more demonstrative shouting at Scott just before the Chinese anthem. pic.twitter.com/Q1e7vmNlNC— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) July 23, 2019
Sun Yang gets in bronze medalist Duncan Scott's face after the 200m freestyle medal ceremony (Sun won gold after Lithuanian Danas Rapsys was DQed for a false start). Scott and Sun did not appear to shake hands, and Sun shouted in Scott's direction earlier in the ceremony. pic.twitter.com/0ilhiSorqt— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) July 23, 2019
'WHY SHOULD I RESPECT HIM?'
He may have offered up a stony silence when Sun lashed out at him, but afterwards, Scott was adamant Sun doesn't deserve the respect of his competitors if he can't respect the sport.
According to the BBC, Scott said: "I'm team Mack.
"If (Sun) can't respect our sport then why should I respect him? I think a lot of people, everyone in swimming, got behind what Mack did.
"Hopefully this will happen in more events."
Swimming governing body FINA doesn't share Scott's view and issued a statement voicing its intent to send both he and Sun warning letters for their "inadequate behaviour".
"The FINA Executive met today in Gwangju (KOR) to analyse the situation occurred during the men's 200m free victory ceremony and has decided to send a warning letter to athletes Duncan Scott (GBR) and Sun Yang (CHN)," the statment read.
"Both competitors had an inadequate behaviour on this occasion, which is not acceptable in accordance with the FINA Constitution Rule C 12.1.3."
SUN GETS THE CROWD OFFSIDE
As for the race itself, commentators could not believe the decision was made to strip Rapsys of what would have been his first world title after he was disqualified for moving on the starting blocks.
"I saw the slightest bit of movement, but he corrected himself by the time the buzzer went," one commentator said. "I am not sure if that's a disqualification."
Sun celebrated on the lane rope after sealing the win and his reaction was not popular with a parochial crowd, who clearly believed he shouldn't be showboating given he was only promoted because of his rival's bad luck.
"Sun becomes the gold medallist in the 200m and the 400m here in Gwangju," the commentator added. "He's on the lane rope celebrating - listen to the reception, it's not kind."
Australia's Clyde Lewis led through the first 100 metres of the final but faded to finish sixth, eight tenths of a second behind Sun.
Lewis set the fastest time in the semi-finals and although he couldn't repeat that in the final he said he had no regrets.
"That was a journey, that was one of the best journeys. These past two days have been insane," he said. "I've by far exceeded all expectations I had coming in.
"About two months ago, I was 1:46 swimmer, I'm a 1:44.9 now.
"It didn't happen tonight but I still did a PB (personal best) from before I came here so I couldn't ask for any more."
FEUD BURSTS BACK TO LIFE
Sun has famously been feuding with Horton at the World Championships after the Aussie refused to share the podium with Sun when he claimed the silver medal behind the Chinese star in the men's 400m.
Sun will front a Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) hearing in September, where a panel will decide whether he has a case to answer for allegedly destroying vials of his blood with a hammer when visited by drug testers last year. Sun was found not guilty of the charge by FINA, but the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) appealed the verdict, which is why it will be reviewed by CAS.
Horton had protested Sun, who served a three-month doping ban in 2014, should not be allowed to compete at the World Championships ahead of his CAS hearing.
Horton first sparked their rivalry when he called Sun a "drug cheat" at the Rio Olympics and then upset the Chinese star to win 400m freestyle gold.
There's been no love lost between the pair in the years since and while many swimmers applauded Horton for his protest in Gwangju, FINA disapproved of the stunt.
"The FINA Executive met today in Gwangju (KOR) to analyse the situation related with the men's 400m free victory ceremony and has decided to send a warning letter to Swimming Australia Ltd and to athlete Mack Horton (AUS)," FINA said in a statement.
"While FINA respects the principle of freedom of speech, it has to be 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."