Infotainment Factory: Horton slams Sun Yang's new doping farce

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Monday, 15 April 2019

Horton slams Sun Yang's new doping farce


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Swimming’s credibility may hinge on it taking a stand against drug-tainted Chinese superstar Sun Yang, his Australian nemesis Mack Horton says.

Sun is currently before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a bizarre incident that occurred during a doping test at his home last November. Sun reportedly admitted to smashing a vial of his blood with a hammer, with the help of his mother and a security guard.

A FINA-appointed panel let him off with a caution on a technicality, finding that the nurse who took his blood sample did not have the necessary paperwork.

Sun was only referred to the CAS after the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) appealed FINA’s sanction and his participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is now at risk. The Chinese swimmer is a 200m, 400m and 1500m Olympic gold medallist and the 1500m world record holder, but has already served a secretive three-month doping ban in 2014.

Asked whether it was time for swimming to denounce Sun’s questionable actions, a guarded Horton told Wide World of Sports: “Potentially. If it wants to remain credible.”

Asked how he would feel about Sun competing at Tokyo 2020, Horton said: “I don’t think it’s about how I feel about it, I think it’s about how everyone feels about it now, after the recent events.

“Only he knows [what happened with the test smashing incident]. I don’t think anyone will ever know. It’s interesting.”

Sun could reportedly face a life ban from the CAS. Horton famously called-out Sun as a “drugs cheat” before the Rio 2016 Olympics, backing up his bold anti-drugs stance by beating his Chinese rival to the 400m freestyle gold medal.

“It definitely felt good. I didn’t leave me with much of a choice [but to win], I don’t think. It came down to that last 50,” Horton said.

Asked how he would feel if he had to stand next to Sun on the blocks at Tokyo 2020, Horton said: “You just focus on what you need to do, really. Focus on the work you’ve done.

“It’s the same as standing up next to anyone else – you don’t know what they’ve been doing in training, you don’t know how hard they’ve trained. But you have to believe that you’ve trained harder than them.”

The CAS has not yet set a date for Sun’s hearing. It is unclear if the matter will be resolved before the FINA world championships in Gwangju, South Korea, during July.

FINA has courted further controversy with Sun in the meantime, inviting the Chinese star to swim in a three-leg series during April-May that could net him $US90,000 in prizemoney.

Horton’s fellow Australian Olympic gold medallist Cate Campbell said that she was “extremely angry” about FINA’s lucrative embrace of Sun, which came despite his fresh doping furore.

“It raises some really serious questions that demand answers if WADA and FINA want to remain credible in the world of clean sport … especially where it pertains to Sun Yang,” Campbell said at the recent Australian championships.

“We need to rethink how we are tackling doping because clearly what we’re doing isn’t good enough. Let’s not forget that Sun Yang has already tested positive to a banned substance.”

HORTON ON WORLD TITLES, OLYMPICS

Horton just skipped the Australian championships due to a shoulder niggle. The selection trials for this year’s world championships will be held in June at Brisbane Aquatic Centre.

Horton’s program looks different to his last campaign building towards the Olympics. He will not race Australia’s beloved 1500m this time but has included the 800m, a men’s Olympic event for the first time at Tokyo 2020.

“I’ve cut the 1500 out, so kind of changed my training a bit more to focus on the 400, 200, 800. That’s been going well so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of that,” he said.

“Obviously the Olympics is the priority, this (world’s) is kind of the dress rehearsal. It’s a year out, you’re fine-tuning your program and making sure everything’s in order. If it’s not, you have a year to sort it out.”

Sun Yang, the London 2012 Olympic 400m champion, beat Horton into silver at the 2017 world championships, winning by more than two seconds.

Horton will be attempting to match Ian Thorpe’s back-to-back Olympic 400m titles (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) by claiming another gold in his pet event at Tokyo 2020.

“Obviously I have looked at how Thorpey has swum it with great admiration and I would love to be able to do it,” he said.

And with Olympic 100m champion Kyle Chalmers now committing to the 200m as a serious individual pursuit, Australia’s 4x200m relay has roared back into medal contention after failing to make the podium at Rio 2016.

Chalmers, Horton, Elijah Winnington and Alexander Graham won the event for Australia at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Chalmers also won the individual 200m gold ahead of Horton and the sprint star is aiming to match Dutch legend Pieter van den Hoogenband by winning the 100-200 double at Tokyo 2020.

“A couple of weeks ago we had the national events camp, so all the 4x200 and 4x100 boys got together in Adelaide and did a training camp together. It was looking good,” Horton said.

“We just spent the week training and pushing each other, but also working on the technical side of relay changeovers and all the potential different combinations. It’s exciting.

“If I can get an individual [200m] swim, I’d love that obviously. But the priority is the 400 and then being there for the team in the relay. It all comes down to trials and how that 200 training is going.”

HORTON ON NEW FAST SUITS

Horton is counting on having another edge in his Olympic campaign. The Australian team’s outfitter, Speedo, has worked with the likes of Horton to develop its Tokyo 2020 swimwear technology.

As the Aussies chase gold, they will be wearing Speedo’s ominously-named Fastskin LZR Pure Intent swimmers. This is serious gear: the men’s trunks retail for about $580, the women’s for about $750.

“I raced in them at the NSW state championships a couple of weeks ago and they were great,” said Horton, who races in high-waist Speedo trunks and says that the difference they make in the pool is “pretty crazy”.

“I was also involved in the testing process. A couple of years ago, they sat us down with all the future potential fabrics and we discussed what we liked, didn’t like. I did a couple of trials in the different shapes and sizes that they’ve made and now we’ve got what we’ve got now.

“I always go the higher waist, just because there’s a bit more material. In theory, it’s a bit faster.

“If you haven’t raced in a while, you forget what they feel like. Then you put them on and go, ‘Wow, this makes a massive difference’. I think they’ve probably almost caught up to the technology that was banned back in 2009.”

Swimming is still getting over the arms race that was the ‘super-suit’ era. Of the current men’s long course world records, 12 are from the super-suit era and eight are post-2009 (9-8 taking out the relays).

Horton’s holy grail - the men’s 400m world record - is still German Paul Biedermann’s 3.40:07, set at the 2009 world championships in Rome. The time is comfortably below Horton’s Olympic gold-winning PB of 3.41:55, though it only shaved 0.01sec off Thorpe’s old world record; set at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester with an earlier super-suit.

Horton believes that while full-length suits are out, the technology of the smaller suits is superior and conducive to breaking the world record.

“I’d like the think it’s attainable. No one’s been close since they got rid of the super-suit,” he said. “I think it can be attainable.”

HORTON ON THE FUTURE

Horton told Wide World of Sports that his initial reaction after Rio 2016 was that he would retire from swimming after the Tokyo Olympics. That may not be the case now.

“It’s hard to know. I think after Rio, I thought, ‘I’ll just go to Tokyo’,” he said.

“But as I get closer, I don’t have my mind made up. I’ll definitely reset, reassess and just see what happens. I’ll only be 24 [after Tokyo], so still fairly young.”

Horton is continuing work under his long-time coach Craig Jackson in Melbourne. He said that a recent trend of swimmers competing to older ages had been made possible by training revamps.

“I think it’s probably the development in the way people train. People are training smarter,” Horton said.

“Back in the day, people used to pump out 100km-plus weeks. Now, a big week is 70km.

“I think the training has progressed and people are able to train smarter so they can go for longer.”

Swimming’s credibility may hinge on it taking a stand against drug-tainted Chinese superstar Sun Yang, his Australian nemesis Mack Horton says.

Sun is currently before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a bizarre incident that occurred during a doping test at his home last November. Sun reportedly admitted to smashing a vial of his blood with a hammer, with the help of his mother and a security guard.

A FINA-appointed panel let him off with a caution on a technicality, finding that the nurse who took his blood sample did not have the necessary paperwork.

Sun was only referred to the CAS after the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) appealed FINA’s sanction and his participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is now at risk. The Chinese swimmer is a 200m, 400m and 1500m Olympic gold medallist and the 1500m world record holder, but has already served a secretive three-month doping ban in 2014.

Asked whether it was time for swimming to denounce Sun’s questionable actions, a guarded Horton told Wide World of Sports: “Potentially. If it wants to remain credible.”

Asked how he would feel about Sun competing at Tokyo 2020, Horton said: “I don’t think it’s about how I feel about it, I think it’s about how everyone feels about it now, after the recent events.

“Only he knows [what happened with the test smashing incident]. I don’t think anyone will ever know. It’s interesting.”

Sun could reportedly face a life ban from the CAS. Horton famously called-out Sun as a “drugs cheat” before the Rio 2016 Olympics, backing up his bold anti-drugs stance by beating his Chinese rival to the 400m freestyle gold medal.

“It definitely felt good. I didn’t leave me with much of a choice [but to win], I don’t think. It came down to that last 50,” Horton said.

Asked how he would feel if he had to stand next to Sun on the blocks at Tokyo 2020, Horton said: “You just focus on what you need to do, really. Focus on the work you’ve done.

“It’s the same as standing up next to anyone else – you don’t know what they’ve been doing in training, you don’t know how hard they’ve trained. But you have to believe that you’ve trained harder than them.”

The CAS has not yet set a date for Sun’s hearing. It is unclear if the matter will be resolved before the FINA world championships in Gwangju, South Korea, during July.

FINA has courted further controversy with Sun in the meantime, inviting the Chinese star to swim in a three-leg series during April-May that could net him $US90,000 in prizemoney.

Horton’s fellow Australian Olympic gold medallist Cate Campbell said that she was “extremely angry” about FINA’s lucrative embrace of Sun, which came despite his fresh doping furore.

“It raises some really serious questions that demand answers if WADA and FINA want to remain credible in the world of clean sport … especially where it pertains to Sun Yang,” Campbell said at the recent Australian championships.

“We need to rethink how we are tackling doping because clearly what we’re doing isn’t good enough. Let’s not forget that Sun Yang has already tested positive to a banned substance.”

HORTON ON WORLD TITLES, OLYMPICS

Horton just skipped the Australian championships due to a shoulder niggle. The selection trials for this year’s world championships will be held in June at Brisbane Aquatic Centre.

Horton’s program looks different to his last campaign building towards the Olympics. He will not race Australia’s beloved 1500m this time but has included the 800m, a men’s Olympic event for the first time at Tokyo 2020.

“I’ve cut the 1500 out, so kind of changed my training a bit more to focus on the 400, 200, 800. That’s been going well so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of that,” he said.

“Obviously the Olympics is the priority, this (world’s) is kind of the dress rehearsal. It’s a year out, you’re fine-tuning your program and making sure everything’s in order. If it’s not, you have a year to sort it out.”

Sun Yang, the London 2012 Olympic 400m champion, beat Horton into silver at the 2017 world championships, winning by more than two seconds.

Horton will be attempting to match Ian Thorpe’s back-to-back Olympic 400m titles (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) by claiming another gold in his pet event at Tokyo 2020.

“Obviously I have looked at how Thorpey has swum it with great admiration and I would love to be able to do it,” he said.

And with Olympic 100m champion Kyle Chalmers now committing to the 200m as a serious individual pursuit, Australia’s 4x200m relay has roared back into medal contention after failing to make the podium at Rio 2016.

Chalmers, Horton, Elijah Winnington and Alexander Graham won the event for Australia at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Chalmers also won the individual 200m gold ahead of Horton and the sprint star is aiming to match Dutch legend Pieter van den Hoogenband by winning the 100-200 double at Tokyo 2020.

“A couple of weeks ago we had the national events camp, so all the 4x200 and 4x100 boys got together in Adelaide and did a training camp together. It was looking good,” Horton said.

“We just spent the week training and pushing each other, but also working on the technical side of relay changeovers and all the potential different combinations. It’s exciting.

“If I can get an individual [200m] swim, I’d love that obviously. But the priority is the 400 and then being there for the team in the relay. It all comes down to trials and how that 200 training is going.”

HORTON ON NEW FAST SUITS

Horton is counting on having another edge in his Olympic campaign. The Australian team’s outfitter, Speedo, has worked with the likes of Horton to develop its Tokyo 2020 swimwear technology.

As the Aussies chase gold, they will be wearing Speedo’s ominously-named Fastskin LZR Pure Intent swimmers. This is serious gear: the men’s trunks retail for about $580, the women’s for about $750.

“I raced in them at the NSW state championships a couple of weeks ago and they were great,” said Horton, who races in high-waist Speedo trunks and says that the difference they make in the pool is “pretty crazy”.

“I was also involved in the testing process. A couple of years ago, they sat us down with all the future potential fabrics and we discussed what we liked, didn’t like. I did a couple of trials in the different shapes and sizes that they’ve made and now we’ve got what we’ve got now.

“I always go the higher waist, just because there’s a bit more material. In theory, it’s a bit faster.

“If you haven’t raced in a while, you forget what they feel like. Then you put them on and go, ‘Wow, this makes a massive difference’. I think they’ve probably almost caught up to the technology that was banned back in 2009.”

Swimming is still getting over the arms race that was the ‘super-suit’ era. Of the current men’s long course world records, 12 are from the super-suit era and eight are post-2009 (9-8 taking out the relays).

Horton’s holy grail - the men’s 400m world record - is still German Paul Biedermann’s 3.40:07, set at the 2009 world championships in Rome. The time is comfortably below Horton’s Olympic gold-winning PB of 3.41:55, though it only shaved 0.01sec off Thorpe’s old world record; set at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester with an earlier super-suit.

Horton believes that while full-length suits are out, the technology of the smaller suits is superior and conducive to breaking the world record.

“I’d like the think it’s attainable. No one’s been close since they got rid of the super-suit,” he said. “I think it can be attainable.”

HORTON ON THE FUTURE

Horton told Wide World of Sports that his initial reaction after Rio 2016 was that he would retire from swimming after the Tokyo Olympics. That may not be the case now.

“It’s hard to know. I think after Rio, I thought, ‘I’ll just go to Tokyo’,” he said.

“But as I get closer, I don’t have my mind made up. I’ll definitely reset, reassess and just see what happens. I’ll only be 24 [after Tokyo], so still fairly young.”

Horton is continuing work under his long-time coach Craig Jackson in Melbourne. He said that a recent trend of swimmers competing to older ages had been made possible by training revamps.

“I think it’s probably the development in the way people train. People are training smarter,” Horton said.

“Back in the day, people used to pump out 100km-plus weeks. Now, a big week is 70km.

“I think the training has progressed and people are able to train smarter so they can go for longer.”

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