Mike Hosking: It's about time we called out the drug cheats

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 8:51PM
Sun Yang and Duncan Scott. (Photo / Getty Images)
Sun Yang and Duncan Scott. (Photo / Getty Images)

I think we can fairly easily say that Mark Horton is on the right side of history, and I think we can fairly safely say he's on the right side of the Australian public's mood. 

Mark Horton got silver in South Korea at the FINA World Championships in the 400 metre freestyle. He got silver to Sun Yang's gold. 

Sun Yang got banned in 2014 for cheating, he's an ongoing story around drug testing. Horton refused to stand on the podium and refused to shake Sun's hand. 

And who can blame him? That isn't stopping the swimming body warning Swimming Australia, who will in turn warn Horton. I don't know what, if anything, further comes out of it. Presumably if he does it again, there is another warning, if it goes on forever someone gets banned or fined. 

Of course, what drives international swimming is image. If Horton gets away with this, that opens the door to every swimmer who hasn’t had drug issues offering up the same reaction to everyone who has. You'll have medal ceremonies all over the world descending into chaos as political protest after political protest is made. 

It'll spread to other sports, it'll be the “take a knee” scenario that’s bogged the NFL down all last season. And the "take a knee" wasn’t based on any singular factual event, it was based on Colin Kaepernick not liking the national anthem, and some of the themes it represented. 

A drug cheat is at least a drug cheat with specific circumstances and decisions around their actions and name. 

The worst case scenario is the Olympics, where you have a collection of world leaders, who would be shamed and embarrassed, especially the Chinese, the Russians and some of the eastern Europeans who have turned cheating into an art, in some cases a state sponsored art, and there they all would be, being outed for their actions. 

And lest we forget the sporting bodies themselves, some of whom have backbones of jelly when it comes to cleaning up their respective sports. How humiliating would it be to see ceremony after ceremony derailed through athlete protest? 

You'd end up with an Olympic contest in itself. The sports with the most protests, thus indicating the sport with the most cheats. How dreadfully embarrassing. 

Which is maybe why Horton should tell them to stick it and be true to himself. No one outside an elite athlete can truly know what it's like being beaten by a person who cheats. Your sacrifice versus their lab support.  

But most of us have a clue and the associated sympathy, and that's why most of us would probably think Horton has done the right thing, and all power to him.