February 28, 2020
In the Sun Yang case the only thing clear about the way Fina runs swimming is the water in the pool
The worrying friendship between swimming chiefs and Sun Yang | Andy Bull
In August 2016, two years after Sun Yang was banned for three months because he’d been caught using an illegal stimulant, he won the Olympic 200m freestyle. It was his third gold medal, after his victories in the 400m and 1500m at London 2012. Sun explained the drug was medication for a heart problem. Still, it’s fair to say that some people there weren’t too happy about it. Australian freestyler Mack Horton called him a “drugs cheat”, French backstroker Camille Lacourt said he “pisses purple”. Others, though, seemed to be genuinely pleased for him. Particularly Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of Fina, the international swimming federation, who gave Sun a long hug after he stepped off the podium.
Afterwards, Sun explained that Marculescu had been “like a grandfather” to him. “He is a very good friend of the Chinese swim team,” he said. “So I was very happy to see him see me win the gold. I hope this friendship will last.” It did. A year later, Fina made a special point of celebrating “this friendship” at its World Aquatics Gala in the Chinese city of Sanya, when it presented Sun with a bespoke award for “Outstanding Contribution to Swimming Popularity in China”. Asked about it afterwards, a Fina spokesman told Inside the Games the award had been made at “the request of the China Swimming Association”.
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