Agitated social media users from China have flooded the social media pages of Australian swimmer Mack Horton in response to the bombshell eight-year ban handed to his bitter rival, Sun Yang, on Friday.
Chinese star Yang was banned from competition after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld an appeal from the World Anti-Doping Authority, after the world swimming authority FINA cleared Yang of any wrongdoing, following an incident in which he smashed vials containing his own blood samples in 2018.
SPEAKING OUT: Aussie swimmer Mack Horton reacts to Sun Yang doping ban
Yang has slammed the verdict as ‘unfair’ and vowed to fight the ban.
Horton welcomed the verdict, but said it would not affect his preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
In the wake of the CAS decision, hundreds of Chinese social media users have targeted Horton online - but he’s not the only athlete to incur their wrath.
Basketballer Andrew Bogut, himself a vocal critic of both Sun Yang and China in general, also had to deal with angry comments directed at him.
Several ugly comments appeared on Horton’s most recent Instagram post, including one which simply read ‘your mom just dead’.
Other comments brought up Horton’s high-profile protest against Yang at the 2019 FINA World Championships in South Korea, in which he refused to share the podium with his Chinese rival.
“Foreigners are jealous. It is really unfair to treat Sun Yang in this way. Since when did competitive sports become villain sports,” said one user called ‘Lingering memories’ on microblogging website Weibo Corp.
“Mack Horton jumped out first to insult Sun Yang. It’s really impolite,” read another comment on Instagram.
“Does he think he is a god who knows all the truth?”
Bogut, who posted to Twitter to celebrate the verdict, also found his mentions filled with abuse from Chinese users.
The former NBA champion had previously dealt with death threats from Chinese fans after his previous support for Horton, as well as when he questioned the NBA’s response to anti-China protests in Honk Kong late last year.
Sun Yang vows to fight CAS ruling
China's top swimmer Sun Yang has vowed to appeal after being handed an eight-year ban for a dope test violation that would rule him out of the Tokyo Games.
CAS said the eight-year ban was imposed because Sun already had an earlier anti-doping rule violation against him from 2014.
"This is unfair. I firmly believe in my innocence," he told Xinhua. "I will definitely appeal to let more people know the truth."
Sun and members of the 28-year-old's entourage had smashed vials containing blood samples taken at an out-of-competition test in September 2018.
The Chinese swimmer is reigning world and Olympic champion in 200m freestyle and won two gold medals at the 2012 London Games and another at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but is also a controversial figure in the sport.