Mack Horton is many things: He’s a 20-year-old student. He’s fucking rapid in the pool. He’s Australia’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics. He’s also a giant green-and-gold target for Chinese indignation.
That’s because the young gun’s repeated comments about 400-Metre Freestyle competitor and silver medalist Sun Yang’s prior doping ban have totally razzed up fans of the Chinese swimmer.

Before their face-off, Horton flat-out labeled Sun a “drug cheat” in reference to his 2014 ban for using a stimulant. Then, in the post-race press conference – while sitting right next to Sun, mind you – Horton told the press “I used the word ‘drug cheat’ because he tested positive.”

“I just have a problem with him testing positive and still competing.”

Those so-called “taunts”, combined with footage of the Chinese athlete’s emotional response in the race’s aftermath, have spurred social media users to bombard Horton’s account with calls for him to apologise. 

Oh, there are a fair few calling him a disrespectful so-and-so, too:

The story is much the same over on Horton’s Instagram account:

Many commenters have also referenced the circumstances of Sun’s drug use. At the time, the swimmer claimed the banned substance –  trimetazidine – was a component of heart medication he was taking:

Both Horton and Sun will be tackling the 1500-Metre Freestyle heats on Saturday – if Australia’s newest sporting hero didn’t just inadvertently kick off a war with a global superpower. 
Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
Photo: Adam Pretty / Getty.