The Anti-Drug Protests In World Swimming Is Cancel Culture Taken To New, Toxic Heights 

Cancel culture, or the act of dismissing individuals who’ve committed acts far too problematic to earn them any kind of forgiveness, has been taken to new heights. 2019 saw the obliteration of James Charles’ reputation, but many of us weren’t all that surprised since social media is hostile at the best of times.


What is new, however, is cancel culture making it into the professional sporting world.

Exhibit A is Australian swimmer, Mack Horton snubbing the award ceremony in which competitor, Sun Yang, was awarded gold for the 400m final. The race saw Yang take out the 400m title, and Horton placed a close second. The fact that Horton refused to shake Yang’s hand and join him on the podium could very well be an indication that Horton is simply, a sore loser. The best justification for this kind of behaviour would be that Horton simply couldn’t cop the defeat – and that would be the best case scenario.

But the reality is that Horton has basically ignited a feud with Yang because of the Chinese swimmer’s past drug offences. Leading up to the 2015 Rio Olympics, Yang served a three-month ban for testing positive in a drug test. Yang is also currently embroiled in a run-in for more drug offences. He’s currently facing a number of allegations for violating doping rules which could ultimately result in a ban from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next year. Yang denies any wrongdoing and has requested a public trial at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in September.

Horton is absolutely infuriated by Yang’s past offence, which any fellow competitor would be, but the fact is that he’s served his time. Yang tested positive, copped the three-month ban, and should be free to continue on with his career – with a tainted reputation, possibly yes, but whatever happened to ‘innocent until proven guilty’? Why is Horton ridiculing this guy for past offences he’s already paid the price for?

Asked about the feud, Horton said, “I don’t think I need to say anything.”

“His actions and how it has been handled speaks louder than anything I could say.”

Horton Received A Standing Ovation

Following the award ceremony, Horton marched back into the athletes’ village and received a standing ovation from fellow swimmers. Despite the fact that FINA has blatantly condemned the behaviour, describing it as ‘inadequate’ and ‘unacceptable’, many other swimmers are jumping on Horton’s bandwagon. American swimmer Lilly King has commended Horton’s silent protest, saying he’s ‘incredibly brave’. Also in recent hours, British swimmer, Duncan Scott refused to share the podium with Yang following the men’s 200m freestyle.

It’s Major Double Standards

Yet whilst Horton is taking a stance against Yang’s past drug taking, he’s forgetting that Aussie swimmers are equally as guilty. Thomas Fraser-Holmes was set to cop a 12-month suspension from the sport back in 2017 for having missed drug tests in the space of a year. Similarly, two other Australian swimmers have run into trouble with ASADA for violating drug regulations.

You’d think, if Horton is this self-proclaimed ‘anti-drug advocate/hero’, he’d be taking a stance against Australia’s own athletes, too. Horton is keeping pretty tight-lipped about Fraser-Holmes competing just a month ago – with a similar track record of drug accusations to Yang. I mean, do I really need to spell out the double standard here?

This Is All Very Timely Exposure For The Sport

Whilst Horton’s anti-drug crusade unfolds, the media have quite rapidly jumped onto reporting. For the first time in a long time, professional swimming is back in the spotlight, and it seems the limelight has arrived at a pretty convenient, cash-strapped time. The broadcast of World Championship swimming is hardly receiving the kind of air time it did in the eras of Thorpe and Kieren Perkins. Many of Horton’s actions, as well as swimmers following suit, suggest a pretty conniving attempt to catapult the sport back into the spotlight.

Sources: @veggleton, @is_Wookie. 

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