Rio Olympics 2016 swimming gold medalist Mack Horton was immediately targeted online after winning the men’s 400-meter freestyle final, leaving Chinese rival Sun Yang behind.
Following the defeat of the Chinese player, fans targeted Horton online for calling his rival a “drug cheat.” Before being declared the winner of the swimming race, the player remembered Yang’s positive test against a drug in 2014. The incident called for the Rio Olympics 2016 runner-up’s ban from the game for three months.
At the post-race conference, Horton stuck to his comments while Yang sat beside him. “I used the words drug cheat because he tested positive,” Horton said while defending his comments. “He’s one of the athletes here who has tested positive.”
Yang’s fans asked Horton to apologize for his comments. The winner had to tolerate various abusive words, including “loser,” “ugly,” etc. One of the users said that even though he had a gold medal, it was of no use because of his character, which will always be that of a loser. Another said that Horton lost the spirit of the prestigious games as he was no longer qualified to play.
“Please apologize to Sun. Your country will be ashamed of you. Do you want to play psychological warfare? [sic]” one of the Instagram user commented.
The comment seemed to follow the Horton-Yang conflict that has been going on for a long time. At one instance during a training session at the Olympic aquatic center, the Chinese player splashed water on the face of the Aussie swimmer. It was then when the latter revealed that he did not respond to water-splashed “hello” as he did not have time for “drug cheats.”
To the whole event, Yang defended his stand and said that he did not care for Horton much. “I’m clean, I’ve done everything it takes to prove I’m clean,” he said as quoted by the ABC.
The social media comments are still awaiting Horton’s response.