Sun Yang Sprayed By Social-Media Criticism As Fans Turn On Their Fallen Star & Say Sorry To Mack Horton

Chinese fans - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Chinese fans have turned on Sun Yang in a “spray” of social-media criticism of the swimmer following the publication of the full report of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) outlining the reasons why the three-times Olympic champion has been banned for eight years.

Sun, who has long been adored by loyal fans and defended robustly between his positive test of 2014 and his latest anti-doping challenge, now finds himself called “a big baby”,”arrogant” and “rude”,  while the team about him is labelled “stupid and evil” in some of the posts calling on the swimmer and his entourage to show humility.

Many also call on Sun to apologise to Mack Horton, the Australian Olympic 400m freestyle champion who staged a podium protest against Sun’s presence at the World Championships last July by refusing to pose for photographs with the Chinese winner of the 400m freestyle in the midst of an anti-doping process.

Sun’s suspension, for reasons covered comprehensively in the links to Swimming World coverage at the foot of this article, started on Friday February 28, when the CAS announced that it sided with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against a FINA Doping Panel decision of January 3, 2019 to issue Sun with a caution but fall shy of imposing a penalty following an acrimonious testing mission in September 2018.

That mission ended with no urine sample being delivered and a blood sample submitted and signed off by the first Chinese man ever to claim Olympic gold in the pool taking that sample back from the chain of custody by Sun at the behest of his twice-banned dissector, Ba Zhen and two senior figures via telephone calls during the control session, namely Dr Han Zhaoqi and Hao Cheng, national swim team leader at the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA).

The South China Morning Post, in a report by Jonathan White, notes how support for Sun Yang had diminished since the publication of the CAS report in full on Wednesday as fans digest the full story. The Post reports:

On online portal Sina Sports, comments saw users “spray” Sun, as the Chinese internet vernacular describes criticism. Sina Sports has exhaustively covered the CAS report with each article seeing thousands of comments as the topic trends. It was a similar story on microblogging site Weibo, often called the Chinese Twitter, where users expressed an antipathy not seen before towards Sun, with many pointing out the swimmer deleted all of his post-verdict posts purporting to offer new “evidence”.

Others stuck the boot in, with Sun called a “baby” by many. User Yuan Guoqing was among them, recalling the lenient treatment the swimmer had through his career for crashing his SUV when driving without a licence and wearing his own sponsor’s clothing at the Asian Games, but not at CAS.

Comments included:

  • “Now public opinion is not on your side you can’t be arrogant.”
  •  “Sun Yang’s arrogance, rudeness and answering questions asked at the scene were regrettable.”
  • “Sun Yang’s final speech did not mention any words that he violated the law and put privacy and the Olympic spirit on the neck of the court. This team is stupid and evil.”

Some Chinese swim fans are reported to have broken through the “Great Firewall of China” to reach English-language Instagram accounts and post apologies to Horton.


Mack Horton – Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

The SCMP reports: “Hundreds of comments to that end appeared on Horton’s two most recent Instagram posts, with messages such as that posted by a user named “zhaoxiliuu”. “I apologise for those who ­insulted you. Even if everyone attacks you like this, you have never made hate speech against China. Now everyone knows the truth and supports you to maintain the fairness of the game. Lot of respect.”

Another, from a user named “rionay_rex”, went further. “Hi Mack, we Chinese just found your weibo account which is still active 5 years before. Sometimes our Chinese could not get the truth, but most of us are kind and goodness persons, the reason why we abuse you is because our emotion was taken advantage of by a few’s interests, I am sorry for what my compatriots did to you.”

A user called “paul.dirac123” wrote: “I want to apologise to you for my wrong words. You are right and I know you don’t hate China but only hate Sun’s action. Sorry.”

Sun Yang, who was criticised by the CAS Judges for showing no remorse or regret for the behaviour that led to an eight-year ban for tampering, maintains his innocence yet and has said he will lodge and appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which considers aspects of CAS cases along narrow judicial lines, such as human rights, the right to a fair hearing and other procedural matters, including the eligibility of people advocating in and hearing cases.

Swimming World’s coverage of Sun Yang & FINA Vs WADA At the Court of Arbitration for Sport

The Podium Protestors


Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lee Thomas
4 years ago

They have alot to be sorry for after their conduct in Gwangju… We were there and their behaviour was abhorrent!

Lee Thomas
4 years ago
Reply to  Lee Thomas

My wife Sarah Thomas Oly put a few of them straight tho ?

Craig Lord
4 years ago
Reply to  Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas I suspect most of those won’t be the ones asking Sun to wake up etc … there are a vast number of decent, good and bright folk in China who also wanted to see justice and a problem dealt with… and some aspects of this particular problem are yet to be dealt with …

Lee Thomas
4 years ago
Reply to  Lee Thomas

Craig Lord I suspect you suspect correctly…

Héctor Ruvalcaba
4 years ago


Jesse Goodyear
4 years ago

Kay Macpherson what a day!

Kay Macpherson
4 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Goodyear

Jesse Goodyear I NEVER thought I’d see this day… Good on those fans for speaking up, they have been duped and are now hurting, along with the sport and general public.

Rodney Marks
4 years ago

I suspect Sun Yang will still think he has done nothing wrong. Will FINA prove him right?

Kay Macpherson
4 years ago
Reply to  Rodney Marks

Rodney Marks Hopefully FINA won’t exist on the near future. ???

Rodney Marks
4 years ago
Reply to  Rodney Marks

Kay Macpherson that will surely take about 6 major swimming nations to walk away at once. No sign there is an appetite for that yet. But we can hope.

Sue Jackson
4 years ago


Gary Thompson
4 years ago

FINA – keeping swimmers poor since 1906 – is their motto – while they snuffle in the trough

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x