Sun Yang was in the middle of controversy at the world swimming championships again. Only this time, it wasn’t his doing.
Sun won the 200-meter freestyle on Tuesday night after Danas Rapsys of Lithuania finished first and got disqualified for an apparent false start.
The Chinese star touched second, but got elevated after Rapsys had already celebrated in the pool.
Sun appeared surprised, clasping his hands to his face, but quickly sat on the lane rope and raised both arms in the air as a mix of cheers and boos rang out.
Katsuhiro Matsumoto of Japan took silver. Martin Malyutin of Russia and Duncan Scott of Britain tied for bronze.
Once again, Sun got shunned by a competitor on the medals podium. Scott kept his hands clasped behind his back and refused to shake Sun’s hand, standing off on his own while the other medalists joined Sun to pose for photographers.
Sun, who served a three-month doping ban in 2014, is being allowed by FINA to compete in Gwangju ahead of a Court for Arbitration in Sport hearing in September that threatens Sun’s career.
Sun has been accused of smashing vials of his blood with a hammer during a clash last year with testers, and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty.
“He does quite a good job of making sure everyone continues to know about it,” Scott said, referring to Sun’s pending doping case. “So I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Sun spread his arms apart and looked at Scott as the Brit turned to come off the podium. Sun and the other two medalists stopped for photographers on the pool deck, but Scott kept on walking.
There was a mix of boos and cheers from Chinese fans in the crowd at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center.
“If people are booing him it’s for a reason,” British swimmer Adam Peaty said of Sun. “He should be asking himself now should he really be in a sport when people are booing him?”
Peaty said Scott’s action was “completely right.”
“The most important thing as a sports person is you have a right to a voice,” Peaty said. “Duncan shared his voice and so did the crowd, so it’s completely fair.”
After Sun won the 400 free, silver medalist Mack Horton of Australia refused to step on the podium or acknowledge Sun during the medals ceremony. FINA, swimming’s governing body, sent warning letters to Swimming Australia and Horton for his actions.
Sun, the current Olympic champion in the 200 free, earned his third straight medal in the event at worlds and second gold in a row.
He was timed in 1 minute, 44.93 seconds.
Without three-time defending champion Katie Ledecky in the field, Simona Quadarella of Italy won the 1,500 freestyle in 15:40.89 — well off Ledecky’s world record of 15:20.48.
Earlier Tuesday, the American star withdrew from the final because of unspecified illness. Ledecky also dropped out of the 200 freestyle heats.
Sarah Kohler of Germany earned silver and Wang Jianjiahe of China took bronze.
Olympic and defending world champion Ryan Murphy was upset in the men’s 100 backstroke.
Xu Jiayu of China won in 52.43 seconds.
Evgeny Rylov of Russia took silver and Mitch Larkin of Australia got bronze.
Murphy, who was under his own world-record pace at the turn, faded to fourth. Fellow American Matt Grevers was fifth.
In the women’s 100 back, Kylie Masse of Canada won in 58.60.
Minna Atherton of Australia took silver and American Olivia Smoliga earned bronze.
Kathleen Baker of the U.S., the world record holder, tied for sixth after being tied for the lead at the turn.
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