FINA Sends ‘Warning Letter’ to Mack Horton Over Podium Protest


Following his podium protest of Sun Yang on the first night of the 2019 FINA World Championships, FINA has sent a ‘warning letter’ to Mack Horton and Swimming Australia.

The FINA Executive met Monday to ‘analyse’ the situation, according to a statement released today. Full statement:

The FINA Executive met today in Gwangju (KOR) to analyse the situation related with the men’s 400m free victory ceremony and has decided to send a warning letter to Swimming Australia Ltd and to athlete Mack Horton (AUS).

While FINA respects the principle of freedom of speech, it has to be conducted in the right context.

As in all major sports organisations, our athletes and their entourages are aware of their responsibilities to respect FINA regulations and not use FINA events to make personal statements or gestures.

The matter over which Mack Horton was allegedly protesting is currently under review by CAS and therefore it is not appropriate for FINA to prejudice this hearing by commenting further.

After his silver medal performance in the 400 free, Horton refused to take the podium with gold medalist Sun Yang, of China. He also kept an intentional distance between himself, Sun, and bronze medalist Gabriele Detti during post-podium photo ops in addition to his demonstration during the medal ceremony.

Horton and Sun have long had somewhat of a rivalry, and the Olympic champion Sun is currently embroiled in a doping investigation.

Their back-and-forth goes back to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. While competing there, Sun had splashed Horton while in the warm-up pool, with Horton telling the media, “He splashed me to say hi and I ignored him because I don’t have time for drug cheats.”

At the time, Sun responded by accusing Horton of playing mind games to destabilize him. “I don’t think I need to explain myself any further. I have done what it takes to prove I’m clean … all athletes should be shown respect. On the competition stage, every athlete deserves to be respected and there’s no need to use these sorts of cheap tricks to affect each other.

Now, Sun is facing a CAS hearing in September regarding the World Anti-Doping Agency’s appeal case against the FINA anti-doping decision not to sanction the world record holder over his blood vial-smashing incident in September.

It’s unclear if FINA threatened Horton with suspension, but if so, it would not be without precedent. In 2008, LEN suspended Serbian Milorad Cavic for wearing a “Kosovo is Serbia” shirt on the podium at the European Championships.

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3 years ago

Not a fan of Sun. But Horton is definitely a sore loser.

4 years ago

Sore Losers ! If you don’t agree with FINA’s rules, then don’t participate in FINA sponsored competitions. You didn’t protest before the race. You went ahead with the race and you lost, then staged a protest. Sore Losers, plain and simple.

Just sayin
4 years ago

It Will be fun to see FINA’s reaction to a swimmer taking a knee during a national anthem.

4 years ago

Horton is disgusting. Should be banned for life.

4 years ago

FINA should’ve held its tongue on this one.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Angryswimfan
4 years ago

China probably threatened FINA executives not to wire transfer their monthly stipend

4 years ago

I would love to see Anthony Ervin get one of these letters after one of his silly protests.

4 years ago

FINA has a glorious history of banning no-names, like a Peruvian butterflyer, for two or years while giving a pass or a short, secret, retroactive suspension to Brazilian and Chinese starts. Why should we expect them to change? Why shouldn’t athletes take in in their own hands and boycott the big offenders?

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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