THE TICKET: THE HORTON V SUN AFFAIR - IS SUN YANG A DRUG CHEAT?
He is the most revered athlete in the world’s most populous nation. To his greatest rival, and many western counterparts, he is simply a drug cheat who should be banned for life. In 2019 the rivalry between China’s Sun Yang and Australia’s Mack Horton escalated at the Gwangju World Swimming Championships when the Australian refused to step onto the dais to receive his silver medal after being beaten by the Chinese. Prior to the event Sun had been widely condemned in western media for using a ‘hammer’ to ‘smash’ blood vials after an out of competition drug test. A FINA tribunal found Sun not guilty; when the tribunal report was leaked to an Australian newspaper it began a global media frenzy. Mack Horton became the pin-up boy of a zero-tolerance campaign. In a forensic one hour review of the case ABC journalist Tracey Holmes tracked down global experts and others familiar with the case to ask the question: is Sun Yang a drug cheat? The facts reveal much of the commentary had not just been hypocritical and misleading, but in some instances was bordering on fantasy.