Drug war of words eclipses Sun's win

Sun Yang with his 200m freestyle gold medal. Fellow Olympians Michael Phelps and Lilly King had criticised the Chinese star, previously banned for doping, and fellow cheats.
Sun Yang with his 200m freestyle gold medal. Fellow Olympians Michael Phelps and Lilly King had criticised the Chinese star, previously banned for doping, and fellow cheats.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Sun Yang with his 200m freestyle gold medal. Fellow Olympians Michael Phelps and Lilly King had criticised the Chinese star, previously banned for doping, and fellow cheats.
Lilly KingST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Sun Yang with his 200m freestyle gold medal. Fellow Olympians Michael Phelps and Lilly King had criticised the Chinese star, previously banned for doping, and fellow cheats.
Yulia EfimovaST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Phelps leads criticism, says dope cheats do not deserve to be welcomed back into sport

RIO DE JANEIRO • China's Sun Yang responded to Australian taunts about his doping history emphatically on Monday by winning the men's 200 metres freestyle title to complete a golden Olympic treble.

Sun, who won the 400m and 1,500m freestyle at London 2012, touched the wall in 1min 44.65sec to beat South Africa's Chad Le Clos by 0.55 second and become the first Chinese to win the 200m. The American Conor Dwyer was third.

Sun also won silver in Saturday's 400m free and despite his delight at winning on Monday, he still felt a twinge of regret that he was not celebrating his fourth Olympic title.

"I felt very sorry that I did not execute my responsibilities," he said of the previous race. "In normal circumstances, it should have been two gold medals (in Rio)."

In his delight at winning, Sun took off his cap and attempted to throw it to Chinese supporters in the crowd above him, but it landed in the pool and he had to retrieve it.

It was not his first misstep of a controversial week that has seen a splashing incident in training escalate into a battle conducted via the media between him and his Australian rivals.

NO ROOM FOR DRUG CHEATS

Do I think people who have been caught for doping offences should be on the team? No, they shouldn't.

LILLY KING, American 100m breaststroke gold medallist, when asked if her anti-drug stance included compatriot Justin Gatlin, the sprinter who has served two drug bans.

DON'T BLAME ME

I once made a mistake and served my ban. The second time was not my mistake. If yogurt gets banned and you're positive, is that our fault?

YULIA EFIMOVA, Russian 100m breaststroke silver medallist, who had served a previous doping ban.

A Chinese state newspaper described Australia as "uncivilised" and "Britain's offshore prison" as it rushed to Sun's defence after he was labelled a drug cheat by Australian 400m freestyle gold medallist Mack Horton.

Sun was revealed two years ago to have secretly served a three-month suspension for using a banned stimulant. He said it was medication to treat a heart issue and did not enhance performance.

"Whatever was in the past, was in the past," he said.

"The medal to me means I have to work even harder. To me the gold medal is a good foundation for next year's world championships."

He was not the only one under fire for doping issues. American teenager Lilly King celebrated her victory over tainted Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova in the women's 100m breaststroke final by firing yet another anti-doping salvo against the Russian.

As hostilities escalated between swimming stars from various nations in Rio, King, 19, was joined by Michael Phelps and other swimmers in calling for tougher action on the use of banned substances.

Efimova, who was initially disqualified from competing in Rio by world swimming body Fina, was cleared to take part on the basis of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the eve of the opening ceremony.

She served a 16-month suspension from late 2013 to February last year and also failed a test for Meldonium earlier this year, although the result was later overturned.

She was booed by spectators as she entered the pool area before the final and left in tears after being narrowly beaten by King.

"I think it just proved that you can compete clean and still come out on top," King said of her win.

The 24-year-old Russian, who had refused to speak to reporters after her semi-final swim, broke down when she faced journalists after finishing second in the final.

"I once made a mistake and served my ban," she said, referring to her 16-month suspension.

"The second time was not my mistake. I don't know how to make people understand. If yogurt gets banned and you're positive, is that your fault?"

Phelps, who is aiming for a record 20th gold medal today, backed King and said those punished for doping should not be allowed back in the sport.

"I think you're going to see a lot of people speaking up more," he said. "I think she's right, something needs to be done."

King was also asked about whether American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who has two past doping offences, should be taking part in Rio.

"Do I think people who have been caught for doping offences should be on the team? No, they shouldn't," she said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline 'Drug war of words eclipses Sun's win'. Print Edition | Subscribe