Opinion: Media ethics in question over Australian athlete’s Olympic slander

By LUO JUN

BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) – The slander made by Australian swimmer Mack Horton against his Chinese rival Sun Yang was an inappropriate remark by an individual athlete, before biased media reports spun it into a row between Olympic fans and sports authorities of the two countries.

Instead of highlighting the Olympic spirits and friendly bonds made by athletes from across the world in Brazil, a few Western media outlets, both mainstream and tabloid, sank so low to exacerbate verbal clashes and biases against the Chinese swimming star.

Their reports deliberately neglected the fact that Sun’s three-month ban in 2014 was due to taking trimetazidine to treat his heart condition and failed to report for a therapeutic exemption, since the drug was only put in the WADA banned substance list in the same year.

The anti-doping authorities have cleared Sun’s name and ruled him clean, but such rules and facts were disregarded by some Australian and British media, who continued to label him a “drug cheat” and even go into personal attack of Sun’s teeth shape and playful interactions with the audience.

To keep the “exciting” row between the two athletes going, some media outlets persistently asked Horton and Sun for “comments” and “responses,” overstepping the boundary to abetting and luring.

Sun was wise enough to stay out of the hype created by predatory media, declining to offer comments on Horton and focusing on the competition.

After winning his first 200m freestyle gold medal on Monday, Sun thanked his coaches for strong support, including his former Australian legendary coach Dennis Cotterell.

Horton, whether he was using the slander as a “tactic” or just has a big mouth, needs to realize that he has been used by some media to create attention, as making fun of Brazil’s Olympic preparations was not on trend anymore.

Freedom of expression should not be abused by some irresponsible Western media outlets to flame hatred. Such biased and malicious reports have already fanned bitter feelings between Australian and Chinese netizens, seriously distracting the Olympics’ upbeat theme, and risk spiraling into an unnecessary political row.


Sun shows temperament of true champion in Rio pool

Sun Yang of China shows his medal during the awarding ceremony of men's 200m freestyle swimming final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 2016. Sun Yang won the gold medal with 1 minute 44.65 seconds | Xinhua/Fei Maohua

Sun Yang of China shows his medal during the awarding ceremony of men’s 200m freestyle swimming final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 2016. Sun Yang won the gold medal with 1 minute 44.65 seconds | Xinhua/Fei Maohua

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) — China’s Sun Yang delivered a stunning riposte to his critics on Monday by winning the men’s 200m freestyle gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

The 24-year-old has been at the center of a media storm in recent days, having been labelled a “drug cheat” by his Australian rival Mack Horton.

The Chinese swimming team responded by demanding an apology for Horton’s “malicious personal attack” on the country’s swimmers.

Sun, who won gold in the 400m freestyle and 1500m freestyle at the London 2012 Olympics, served a three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive to a banned substance. He said he unwittingly took the drug as part of treatment for a chronic heart problem.

If Horton’s comments were not enough to worry about, Sun was also facing questions about his form. He was beaten by Horton in Saturday’s 400m freestyle final, a race the Chinese swimmer was widely expected to win.

But any doubts about whether Sun could still be a dominant force in the pool were erased in emphatic fashion at Rio’s Olympic Aquatics Centre on Monday.

Sun secured the Olympic 200m freestyle title by finishing the final in 1 minute 44.65 seconds, 0.55sec ahead of South Africa’s Chad le Clos with the USA’s Conor Dwyer 0.58sec further back.

Sun, who won silver in the same event at the London 2012 Games, could not hide his delight after the race, raising his arms in triumph in the pool. Afterwards he tossed his cap into the crowd, which gave him loud and sustained applause.

It was a sincere and justified reaction from a man who has endured a tumultuous week.

And we have not see the last of him in Rio. Sun will be the favorite to defend his 1500m Olympic crown on Saturday. Swimming fans can expect more brilliance and raw emotion from the Chinese star, who showed on Monday that he has the temperament of a true champion.


IOC calls for athletes to have “respect for others”

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) — The International Olympic Committee (IOC) supports freedom of speech but there should be a line drawn between freedom to speak and “trash talk”.

When asked about how to distinguish between freedom of speech and trash talk, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said on Monday: “We support freedom of speech but on the other hand, at the Olympics it’s also about respecting your rivals. There is a line somewhere between people should be free to speak and have respect for others.”

The IOC comments followed the on-going row between Chinese and Australian swimming over Australian swimmer Mack Horton’s unfriendly remarks, labeling Chinese swimmer Sun Yang as “drug cheat”.

The Chinese swimming authorities wrote to its Australian counterpart demanding an apology from Horton for “his inappropriate comments” while the Australian side backed Horton saying: “Mack is entitled to express a point of view. Under the Team Values ASPIRE the E stands for express yourself, that is his right. He has spoken out in support of clean athletes. This is something he feels strongly about and good luck to him.”

Sun, who won gold in the 400m freestyle and 1500m freestyle at the London 2012 Olympics, served a three-month ban in 2014 after using a banned substance which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency drug list in 2014.

The 24-year-old said he unwittingly took the drug as part of treatment for a chronic heart problem.

After winning the 400m freestyle gold medal race here on Saturday, Horton said: “I used the words drug cheat because he tested positive. He’s one of the athletes here who has tested positive.”

Previously in practice, Horton said he ignored Sun who tried to greet him and said “I don’t have time or respect for drug cheats.”

The Australian’s comments prompted a heated response on social media, where many Chinese fans described the remarks as unjustified.


China’s swim chief rubbishes Australian report on Sun Yang

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) — Chinese swimming team manager Xu Qi on Thursday denounced reports that star swimmer Sun Yang had attempted to disrupt Australian arch-rival Mack Horton’s training session at the Rio pool.

“It is fake news,” said Xu. “Sun Yang and the Australian swimmers are very good friends.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Yang had tried to distract Horton by splashing him with water as the pair trained in the competition pool on Thursday.

The Daily Mail Australian also carried a picture showing Australian swimmers Daniel Smith and Joshua Palmer, both looking serious, stared down a smiling Sun Yang on a bus back to the Olympic village from training.

“Sun Yang was trying to get his attention but he stayed calm,” Horton’s coach Craig Jackson was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail Australia.

But Xu claimed the reports were not true and asked the media to “write about Sun Yang objectively and not to make up stories about him.”

“Chinese swimmers respect their opponents and want to make friends with athletes from other countries. They are here to compete in the Olympic Games and realize their dreams.”

1 Comment

Filed under Athletes, Olympics – Rio de Janeiro

One response to “Opinion: Media ethics in question over Australian athlete’s Olympic slander

  1. Pingback: Swimming Australia’s glass house comes crashing down with positive doping samples | Friendship First, Competition Second – An Amateur Sport Website

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