GWANGJU, BALIPOST.com – American superstar Caeleb Dressel has invited comparisons to Olympic legend Michael Phelps after lighting up a world swimming championships plagued by doping rows, a sexual harassment arrest and a fatal nightclub accident.
Dressel came away from Gwangju with six gold medals and two silvers, winning all four of his individual events and obliterating Phelps’s 10-year-old 100 metres butterfly world record for good measure.
But even the heroics of swimming’s tattooed golden boy were often overshadowed by an explosive doping controversy, which was looming even before Chinese giant Sun Yang set foot in South Korea.
Following bombshell allegations in a FINA doping panel report, claiming the triple Olympic champion had allowed blood vials to be smashed with a hammer after being visited by testers, several swimmers made their feelings very clear.
Australia’s Mack Horton and Briton Duncan Scott refused to shake Sun’s hand after losing to the hulking Chinese swimmer, provoking a furious reaction from Sun, who yelled at Scott: “You’re a loser!”
Sun, who retained his 200 and 400m freestyle world titles, insisted he was “protecting each and every athlete” by refusing to let what he called “unlicensed” testers take his blood.
“He’s not a drug cheat,” Sun’s coach Denis Cotterell told AFP, adding that Chinese swimming has taken “meticulous care” to clean up its act since the state-sponsored doping of the 1990s.
“It’s absolutely critical for the athletes, the association, for the whole sake of China’s respect on a world stage that they’re well and truly distanced from that past,” said the Australian, claiming that Sun was one of the most tested athletes in swimming.
“He’s tested year in, year out. You can’t have the performances he’s had over the years without doing the work.” (AFP)