KAZAN, Russia (AFP) - China star Sun Yang attacked the media over negative coverage of Chinese swimmers after successfully defending his 400m freestyle title with gold in Sunday's final at the world swimming championships.
The Olympic champion clocked three minutes 42.58 seconds to leave him nearly three seconds short of the event's world record he is chasing.
Sun courted controversy in 2014 after it emerged he had served a three-month doping ban from the Chinese swimming authorities for taking a banned stimulant.
The 23-year-old used his winner's press conference to go on the attack at the media gathered in Kazan, especially after Ye Shiwen's 200m and 400m individual medley wins at the London Olympics attracted huge suspicion.
"For the doping cases, I don't know why the media paid so much attention to this," he said.
"The world media seems to think that whenever the Chinese get a good result, we are doping.We are training and working hard, just like athletes in countries all over the world.
"Athletes have been caught doping in other countries, like Australia, but not much is made of that and I think it's disrespectful to China."
Sun implied his ban was the result of a genuine mistake.
"As athletes, we are working very hard and of course, there are times when get injured and sometimes we take things we don't know about and it's a genuine mistake," he said.
"I hope the media all over the world can have a fair attitude to Chinese athletes and treat us fairly."
Sun also used the spotlight to praise the Chinese capital for winning the right to host the Winter Games in seven years' time after winning the International Olympic Committee vote on Friday.
"I want to congratulate my country Beijing for winning the 2022 Winter Olympic games and I want to use my victory to promote that," said Sun.
This is the first of four individual events Sun, the world 1,500m freestyle record holder, will race in Kazan as well as the 200m, 800m and the mile distance.
Having won the 400m and 1500m freestyle Olympic titles at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Sun continued his domination of the endurance events by winning the 400m, 800m and 1500m world titles in Barcelona two years ago.
"Ever since Barcelona there has been a lot of difficulties, I have been training in Australia and I had to get over a hand injury, but I had a dream to win in Kazan," said the 23-year-old.
"The doctor advised me to have an operation, but because of Kazan I had no time.
"There are always difficulties and challenges, but I hope along with the Chinese team, we can put on some good performances here for the world.
"I have been winning medals since 2011 and I am very happy to win a medal this time, I hope to provide the best performances while I still can."
Britain's James Guy, who had led early on, took silver at 1.17secs back and Canada's Ryan Cochrane won bronze at 2.01secs as the first medals of these championships were decided in Kazan.
Sun singled out Guy for his battling display.
"I have been paying attention to James for a while and I think he is excellent, he is pretty young and I hope these guys can see the rewards for their work in future," said Sun.
"There are other athletes who are improving, so I have to keep improving and getting stronger to prove my best performance."
Sun says the event's world record of three mins, 40.07secs, set by Germany's Paul Biedermann at the 2009 world championships in the era of neoprene suits, is his goal ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
"Of course, it was broken in the precious swimsuit period, so now if we want to break this record it will take more effort, but I see it as a goal on the road to Rio," he said.