Chinese pour scorn on Horton after 'drug cheats' remarks

Sun Aug 7, 2016 8:46pm EDT
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By Brenda Goh

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Chinese web-users unleashed their fury on the social media accounts of Australian Olympic gold medallist Mack Horton, demanding he apologise for calling swimming rival Sun Yang a "drug cheat".

The controversy clouded Horton's Saturday triumph in the 400 metres freestyle final over Sun, the London 2012 champion, with the latter suggesting Horton had made the remarks to affect him. Sun won the silver medal.

"You have offended against the sensitive (feelings) of the Chinese people," said one of more than 300,000 comments left on Horton's latest Instagram post of him celebrating his win on the medal podium.

"Apologise to Sun Yang!", said another on Horton's Facebook page that was peppered with insults, derogatory pictures, many of which carried the hashtag "#apologisetosunyang".

Many of the comments recalled a 2013 incident when the Australian men's freestyle relay team were suspended for using a sedative banned by their national Olympic committee (AOC) in a bonding session before the London Games.

The Chinese swimming team has also demanded an apology from Horton, state news agency Xinhua reported.

"We have been noticing what has been said in the past two days by Horton, who launched a malicious personal attack (on Chinese swimmers)," it quoted Chinese swim team manager Xu Qi as saying.

"We think his inappropriate words greatly hurt the feelings between Chinese and Australian swimmers.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Victory Ceremony - Men's 400m Freestyle Victory Ceremony - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 06/08/2016. Mack Horton (AUS) of Australia poses with his medal.    REUTERS/David Gray