Australian Coaches Back Mack Horton & Call On FINA To Back ISL Zero-Tolerance On Doping

(L-R) Second placed Mack Horton of Australia keeps his distance to winner Yang Sun of China while they pose with their medals for photographers after competing in the men's 400m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 21 July 2019. Gabriele Detti of Italy finishes third.
Mack Horton, left, keeps his distance to Sun Yang for the photo-op with bronze medallist Gabriele Detti after medals in the 400m free at world titles in Gwangju - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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The Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) has called on FINA, the international federation, to follow the example of the International Swimming League and take a zero-tolerance approach to anti-doping “… rather than issue meaningless letters of warning against clean athletes who take a stand”.

In a statement issued a moment ago, ASCTA joined a chorus of athletes and coaches from around the world in backing the stance made by Mack Horton when he refused to step up on the podium next to China’s Sun Yang after the 400m freestyle final at the World Championships here in Gwangju, Korea.

Horton decided to make a stand against Sun’s presence at a championship at a time when an anti-doping case against him is pending at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

A tentative September date has been set for a hearing into the World Anti-Doping Agency‘s March challenge to a FINA Doping Panel hearing into troubling events that unfolded at an out-of-competition test near Sun’s home last September, the events surrounding which were revealed by the Sunday Times in January.

It was March before WADA lodged a case with the CAS to challenge a FINA Doping Panel ruling that let Sun go free but handed him a series of stern rebukes for his behaviour during four hours of argument with out-of-competition testers who called at his home on September 4 last year.

Last weekend, Sun’s lawyers protested their client’s innocence in a statement that said the Olympic 200m freestyle champion had requested that the CAS hold its hearing in public in the interests of transparency.

Horton’s silent protest has earned plaudits from international peers in the pool and on the deck, while in China, his stance has faced heavy criticism and abuse from fans of Sun Yang.

Now, ASCTA has issued a statement in which it notes the failure of sports organisations such as FINA to deal with a dark past, including allowing all GDR results to stand despite overwhelming evidence of almost two decades of systematic cheating.

FINA has long been criticised for having allowed, to this day, men such as Dr. Lothar Kipke to keep FINA honours given to them when they were members of the medical and anti-doping committees of the federation in the 1970s and 1980s. In the German doping trials of 1999-2000, Kipke and others were handed criminal convictions for their role in the abuse of minors during the 1970s and 1980s as part of the State Plan 14:25 systematic doping program.

Since then, the sport has lived under a cloud of doping controversy related to China in the 1990s and beyond and   related to Russia, which in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games had the worst doping record of all nations in the pool for the previous decade. Russia was barred from official participation because of the growing crisis related to the revelations of Russian whistleblowers exposing corrupt practices at the heart of sport in the country:

In 2014, a unanimous vote by the FINA Media Commission in 2014 backed a joint call by Swimming World in the United States and the SwimVortex website in Europe for the ruling FINA Bureau to consider a reconciliation process and remove honours given to convicted criminals. The request was met with silence and lack of reply.

In 2018, the ISL, ahead of its inaugural Team Pro-League from October to December this year, revealed a policy of zero-tolerance for all athletes who have fallen foul of the WADA Code. A ban after one offence is possible under the WADA Code for the most serious of offences but most athletes are granted a second chance under the Code. The ISL says it will not allow any such thing in its professional league.

FINA yesterday issued a warning to Swimming Australia over Horton’s protest. In response, ASCTA has issued the following statement:

The Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) applaud and support the stance taken by Australian Dolphin Mack Horton to call out cheating in sport – and calls for meaningful and immediate action on anti-doping.

Speaking on behalf of the Board and CEO, ASCTA President and former Dolphin coach, Mr Tony Shaw commended Mack Horton for escalating the issue and effectively putting FINA on notice.

“When organisations like FINA who are entrusted to administer our sport and create an even playing field, can’t and don’t take care of clean athletes the result is athletes step in and make a stand, ” Mr Shaw said.

“For too long there has been an inadequate response from administrators which has put sport, in particular Swimming, in a state of crisis. From the East Germans in the ‘70s and ‘80s to China and Russia more recently, there has been repeated accusations of systemic cheating which has virtually gone unchecked.”

“It is time for zero tolerance for drug cheats. If someone is convicted for using performance enhancing drugs, there should be a life ban. This is the policy of the International Swimming League and FINA should follow suit.”

“Rather than issue meaningless letters of warning against clean athletes who take a stand, International Federations should look inwardly and deal with the issues rather than be complicit through inaction.

“ASCTA calls for meaningful and immediate action on anti-doping from FINA. The technology is available. It is their job to get on the front foot to protect the clean athletes of the world.”

Swimming World has asked FINA for a response to the ASCTA statement and demand. We will bring you the federation’s reply should we receive one.



  1. Deirdre Sheehan

    Absolutely agree, there is no point in NOT having ZERO tolerance, sport has to be for clean athletes ONLY. People need to stand together on this and support the TRUTH about CHEATERS.

    • avatar

      How inconvenient. It seems at least some Aussie swimmers and coaches don’t think this way.

      “Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus told Channel 10’s The Project :
      “I’ve spoken to Shayna — I train with Shayna — she’s a friend of mine and it’s a really devastating situation and it’s upsetting for swimming because we had probably one of our best world championships ever,” she said.
      “But she’ll get through this and as long as … we all stay behind her she’ll get through it.”
      Titmus said she believed Jack can make a comeback to the sport even if she serves a lengthy suspension.
      “There’s many swimmers still swimming at 24,” she said.
      Quote ends.

      Dean Boxall: “She’s going to fight and we are going to fight with her and Swimming Australia is going to fight with her. I believe in Shayna. I believe strongly her story. I know my athlete. This is a very, very sad story. We’ve got to go through the process and respect it and we trust it.”
      Quotes end.

      Swimming Australia head coach Jacco Verhaeren: “”Yes definitely (she can come back from this),” said Verhaeren, on arrival in Brisbane from the world swimming championships in South Korea.

      “There are cases where the athlete’s name is cleared, and it was all a mistake or contamination or whatever it was. And sure they come back from that.””
      Quotes end.

      No zero-tolerance for Jack based on the opinions of the above Aussie swimmer and coaches. How interesting!

    • Sat Gill

      Lee Thomas Juliet

    • Lee Thomas

      Sat Gill you’ve been tango’d

  2. avatar

    Atlethes dope themselves to sustain impossible workouts for long time, increasing their performance to make thema standard: doped once time, doped forever.
    Is same example of a job without taxes for 2 or 3 years…why should i compete against you for the richest man?

  3. Matteo Forni

    Athletes dope themselves to sustain impossible workouts for long time, increasing their performance to make them a standard: doped once time, doped forever.
    Is same example of a job without taxes for 2 or 3 years…why should i compete against you for the richest man?
    Agree with them! Zero tolerance!

  4. Brett Davies

    Totally agree in my opinion Sun Yang should not have been allowed to compete at all.

    • avatar

      Based on the so-called “zero tolerance policy”, totally agree that Aussie boy Thomas Fraser-Holmes should not have been allowed to compete at all after his 1-year suspension.

    • Simon Edwards

      Sanele Nxumalo
      Get over what ?? .. the fact he has already been banned in 2014 . He should not be racing
      .. it’s the same with Yuliya Yefimova .. she also should not be racing after being banned in 2014 for 16 months ..

    • Ed Burton

      Get over what , the bloke is a cheat and has been banned by his own association.

    • Sanele Nxumalo

      Sun yung served a 3 month ban back in 2014 other cases are pending u want him to get a lifetime ban so ur favorite white swimmers won’t have to deal with him his case is pending in courts he smashed samples coz they weren’t authorized to test sun yung they could have tempered with the results he was smart so yeah GET OVER IT

    • Ed Burton

      Yes I am glad you agreed that he has been banned. I dont care what colour the swimmers are and I respect the other Chinese swimmers who aren’t cheating and having to put up with the drug cheat tarnishing their reputation.

  5. avatar

    What an indictment that the Aussie swimmer is left in the position to have to make such a statement! All very well for Australia’s swimming officials to say they support him but if they and other national swimming bodies had done their job they would have long ago applied the necessary pressure to force appropriate changes in the regulatory bodies! Don’t sit there and tell me how great this young man is for having the integrity to live according to his convictions, get a spine and do your job competently and in a timely manner so he doesn’t face pressure he never should have to shoulder! It’s a disgrace! Change is as close as the national swimming bodies want to make it!

    • avatar
      Craig Lord

      Liz, I am among those who agree that national federations have let their swimmers down for a very long time through a failure to force FINA’s hand on athlete welfare and clean sport issues (and they could and should have done far more) but fair to note this statement is not from the federation but the coaches association.

  6. avatar

    As important as anti doping, there shall not be racism and white supremacy in swimming competitions.

  7. avatar

    To people full of prejudice or cheated by fake news:
    Opinions are not facts , you can express as many opinions as you wish, but they are simply not facts.
    The facts at the current stage are simple and clear :
    First, the vile Sun’s security guard broke was deemed iilegal and was done without proper clearence that they had enquired about before they destroyed it.

    Second, two of the three testers are unqualified and unauthorized. a simple question to ask yourself: If you are an athelete, will you allow testers who are not qulified and authorized to take your blood sample? so nothing wrong on Sun Yang’s side.

    Last but not the least, Sun was banned from competition in 2014, but it was for only three months and for a proscribed substance, trimetazidine, that had been prescribed for angina, a heart condition. When Sun took the drug, it had been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list for less than five months, and today is no longer recognized as a stimulant by doping agencies. by the way, trimetazidine can easily be detected, no drug cheat will try it.

    FINA verdict is… The blood that was initially collected (and subsequently destroyed) was not collected with proper authorisation and thus was not properly a “sample” … as a result, the sample collection session initiated by IDTM on September, 4, 2018, is invalid and void.

    So basically Sun is clean and clear. Horton or Scott definitely has no right to judge Sun or treat him in such a rude way.

    Sun will have a public hearing in September. you can only judge him on his test result.
    If he is tested posotive, anyone, including Chinese , will not forgive him. if he’s not tested positive, all of you who’s calling him cheat now should apologize to him. It’s just that simple.

    But before the test result comes due, you should just shut up and pay some respect. Stop humiliating Sun or yourselves any more, just wait for the test result !

    • avatar

      Thank you telling the truth

    • avatar
      Bradly Kanter

      your new hero is just a rude and timid coward

    • avatar


  8. Cami Holt Krystyniak

    The whole FINA doping is a joke. I found Sun’s behavior on the pool deck and podium even more disgusting that the doping allegations. I hope he is banned because his attitude alone casts a mark on the entire sport. These championships have had more drama than necessary. I appreciate the athletes taking a stand against those that don’t play fair.

    • avatar


  9. Wayne Stacey

    So they should. FINA needs some QC checks done to ensure this fiasco can not occur again

  10. Carmel Frost

    FINA should be ashamed of themselves. Disgusting that they issues warning letters to competitors standing up and speaking out against cheating.
    Good on Mack Horton and Duncan Scott!

    • avatar

      Horton should be ashamed of themselves. Disgusting that they treat Sun in such rude and coward way and he’s a complete sore loser.
      Good on Sun Yang!

  11. avatar

    I am not sure where I stand on this. Was Sun Yung’s testing illegal? Or is this a constructed story to evade a truth to protect a certain individual? Why did they not immediately send out legal handlers? Why wait so long to do another test? And how should he have acted? What if he is innocent? I think I might have done the same as him, if innocent or guilty?if guilty i would have stood proud to fob off the naysayers and if innocent I would stand even prouder to protect my integrity.

    • avatar

      I agree with you. You are more objective, fair and upright than those full of prejudice or reporters who deliberately twist the facts to prove their points.
      “if guilty i would have stood proud to fob off the naysayers and if innocent I would stand even prouder to protect my integrity.” I think it’s the right stance.
      Let’s wait for public hearing in September and see what is the truth.

  12. avatar
    Warren Bond

    Excellent. Glad to hear that ASCTA President and former Dolphin coach, Mr Tony Shaw, is adamant that Australian swimmer Shayna Jack should be banned for life for her positive test.

    And that quote again.

    “It is time for zero tolerance for drug cheats. If someone is convicted for using performance enhancing drugs, there should be a life ban,” said Shaw.

    • avatar

      I have no heard one person in Australia talking about zero ban since Jack story broke out.

  13. avatar
    Warren Bond

    Correct. The hypocrisy is staggering.