Mack Horton has once again found himself caught up in the Sun Yang doping drama, with fans of Yang taking out their anger and frustration at the Aussie on social media.
Horton famously refused to share a podium with Yang at the Rio Olympics in 2016, branding his fellow swimmer a “drug cheat”, a move which led to a media firestorm.
Overnight, Yang was banned from swimming for eight years over anti-doping violations.
When Channel 7 approached Horton on the way to training this morning to ask about his reaction, he was fairly even and measured, saying:
“I think regardless of the outcome it was always going to be a statement to the world and my stance has always been about clean sport never about nations or individuals.”
He would not be drawn into questions about whether he felt “vindicated”, saying only:
“It goes on. I’m just a guy still chasing the dream … we’ve got a job to do this morning and we’ll just keep going.”
While Mack Horton had nothing to do with the eight-year ban, which effectively ends Yang’s swimming career, he has become the focus of rage and trolling on social media.
A recent Instagram post that shows him playing beach volleyball in South Australia has rapidly turned into a garbage fire, with numerous comments attacking him.
There are more than 2000 replies to the post, with comments ranging from poop emojis to “RIP” to “your mom just dead” and many others calling the swimmer “garbage.”
Others have harked back to his Rio Olympics protest, calling it “impolite”. Fans of Yang have also hit out at his ban, labeling it a “cruel” and “unjust” punishment.
Supporters have stepped up in response, including paralympian Dylan Alcott, who stood up for his friend on Twitter:
YES! I LOVE MACK HORTON! @_mackhorton ❤️
— Dylan Alcott (@DylanAlcott) February 28, 2020
The coach of Australia’s swimming team has said that Horton will not be “distracted” by the current media circus and that the team’s focus will remain on training.