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Mack Horton refuses to stand on medal podium with Sun Yang

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Mack Horton called Sun Yang a “drug cheat” at the Rio Olympics. The Australian Horton let his actions, or lack of, speak at the world swimming championships on Sunday.

Horton refused to stand on the silver-medal podium step for the Chinese anthem celebrating Sun’s fourth straight world title in the 400m freestyle.

Horton and Sun did not shake hands on camera before or after the medals were awarded. Horton stood a step away from Sun and Italian bronze medalist Gabriele Detti for post-ceremony photos.

“Frustration, I think you know what respect,” the Rio Olympic champion Horton told media in Gwangju, South Korea. “I think you know what the rivalry is like. … His actions and, I guess, how it’s been handled, speak louder than anything I’ll ever say.”

Sun grabbed his 10th world title overall in 3:42.44, relegating Horton to silver by .73.

“Disrespecting me was OK, but disrespecting China was unfortunate,” Sun said through a translator, according to The Associated Press. “I feel sorry about that.”

Sun is again swimming under suspicion this week. He faces a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in September over reports that he and his security guard used a hammer to smash a vial of the swimmer’s blood in a clash with drug testers last September.

FINA gave Sun a warning after the incident. The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed in March to CAS, seeking a stricter punishment, but some swimmers, including outspoken American Lilly King, were dismayed to see the hearing set for after worlds.

Sun was also suspended three months in 2014 for a banned stimulant, though the punishment wasn’t announced by Chinese officials until after he served the time. That led to Horton’s comments at the Rio Olympics.

“I am aware that I have fans and also the haters in the venue, but I was just very satisfied to win,” Sun said, according to the AP. “I am aware of the rumors that have been going around, but I try to just concentrate on my swimming.”

SWIM WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results

Men’s 400m Freestyle
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) — 3:42.44
Silver: Mack Horton (AUS) — 3:43.17
Bronze: Gabriele Detti (ITA) — 3:43.23
4. Danas Rapsys (LTU) — 3:43.50
5. Marco De Tullio (ITA) — 3:44.86
6. Jack McLoughlin (AUS) — 3:45.19
7. Ji Xinjie (CHN) — 3:45.64
8. Zane Grothe (USA) — 3:45.78

NBC Olympics researcher Megan Soisson contributed to this report from Gwangju.

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