Chinese media slams Australia as ‘offshore prison’ in drugs row

first_imgHorton dethroned Yang as the 400 metres freestyle Olympic champion at the weekend, prompting the Chinese athlete to break down in tears.Before the confrontation in the pool, Horton was asked how he felt about doping violators Yang and South Korean Park Tae-Hwan competing at the Games, and responded, “I don’t have time or respect for drug cheats”.Yang is a popular hero in China, despite his repeated brushes with controversy — which include serving a drugs suspension in secret in 2014 — and the comments lit up nationalistic sentiment online and in print.The Global Times newspaper, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, published an op-ed under a pen name associated with its chief editor blasting Horton’s “cynical smugness”.It said Australia should feel embarrassed by the swimmer’s “disgraceful” victory.”In many serious essays written by Westerners, Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilisation.”It went on, referencing Australia’s “early history as Britain’s offshore prison”.”This suggests that no one should be surprised at uncivilised acts emanating from the country,” it concluded.Angry Chinese journalists confronted Horton in Rio to ask why he had used such terminology, and the Australian did not mince his words.”I used the word drugs cheat because he tested positive,” replied Horton, setting the tone for an explosive press conference and prompting Chinese officials to demand an apology.Thousands of social media users also demanded Horton say sorry, posting with the hashtag #SunYangDontCry on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service after footage of Yang sobbing uncontrollably in the media zone went viral.”For the peaceful co-existence of China and Australia, I hereby wish Horton to win swimming titles at the next Paralympics,” one user wrote, blasting the Australian as “mentally handicapped”.The Australian Olympic Committee stood by the gold medallist and issued a statement defending the 20-year-old.”He has spoken out in support of clean athletes. This is something he feels strongly about and good luck to him,” the statement said.Yang’s three-month doping ban in 2014 — for taking a banned stimulant he said was for a heart complaint — was only announced after he had completed it.He returned to the pool today to post the quickest time in the 200m freestyle heats, and refused to take the criticism lying down.”I’m clean. I’ve proved I’m clean. I don’t think we need to concern ourselves with the Australian’s mind tricks,” Yang said.AFPlast_img read more