Backlash over Sun award decision

China's Sun Yang celebrates with fans after winning the 800m freestyle in Kazan last Wednesday. The decision by Fina to name Sun as the top male swimmer of the World Championships was widely criticised.
China's Sun Yang celebrates with fans after winning the 800m freestyle in Kazan last Wednesday. The decision by Fina to name Sun as the top male swimmer of the World Championships was widely criticised.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Fina faces widespread criticism as Peaty's triple-gold success, world records ignored

LONDON • The swimming community has criticised the decision by Fina, the sport's world governing body, to snub Adam Peaty, the British swimmer, and name Sun Yang of China as the top male swimmer of the World Championships, which concluded on Kazan, Russia on Sunday.

Peaty claimed three golds and set world records in the 50m breaststroke and 4x100m mixed medley relay. However, using a points system that rewards golds and world records only in solo events, the top prize was given to Sun for two golds and a silver in races where he fell well shy of his best times.

Sun failed to show up for the start of the 1,500m freestyle final on Sunday after claiming to suffer chest pains in the warm-up, adding a line to the book of controversy he has built since becoming the first Chinese man to win an Olympic swimming title, with gold in the 400m and 1,500m free at London 2012.

Brazil also made a formal complaint against Sun on Sunday, claiming that the Chinese swimmer "mowed down and slapped" one of their women swimmers in the warm-up pool.

Fina intervened in the matter and the issue was resolved with an apology from Chinese team officials.

Peaty's British team-mates, including James Guy, who pipped Sun for gold in the 200m freestyle, and more than 30 others who made the podium for seven counties in Kazan led the opposition to Fina's decision to reward Sun on social media.

Ben Proud, the Commonwealth champion, weighed in with a call for those who test positive for doping to be ineligible for honours and financial rewards.

He said: "It will be a good day when convicted drug cheats stop getting praised for their 'achievements'... Something needs sorting!"

Peaty's mother, Caroline, backed Proud's view and said: "Fina - I am totally disgusted that you could not reward a clean, male swimmer as male of the meet, you are sending out the wrong message."

Sun, who spent a week in jail and served six months' community service in China for driving without a licence, tested positive on May 17 last year for trimetazidine, a heart stimulant added to the World Anti-Doping Agency Code from Jan 1 last year.

It was on Nov 24 before news of the positive test was revealed by a short news report from Xinhua.

Fina later admitted that it had had to insist on China imposing a sanction on Sun, who served a backdated three-month penalty.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Backlash over Sun award decision'. Print Edition | Subscribe