Mack Horton (L) won’t have his silver medal from the 2019 World Championships upgraded to gold. Picture: Getty
Mack Horton (L) won’t have his silver medal from the 2019 World Championships upgraded to gold. Picture: Getty

The shameful loophole robbing Horton of gold

THE legal loophole which is allowing disgraced Chinese swimmer Sun Yang to keep the medals and prize money he received after he was busted for blatant cheating is an outrage to everyone who cares about clean sport.

Mack Horton should be crowned world champion and would already have been if he was competing in almost any other sport because Sun's results from last year's world championships would have been wiped from the record books.

The only reason they haven't been is because the pig-headed leaders of swimming's global body FINA refuse to change their rules on dealing with doping cases despite being repeatedly warned they need an urgent overhaul.

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FINA's dictatorial leaders need to quit - or be fired - because their credibility is beyond repair after the botched handling of Sun's case plunged the sport into fresh crisis.

New executives need to be appointed who will not only change FINA's fishy policy on dealing with doping cases but will also permit an independent review into how the sport has been run for decades so the public can see all the skeletons in the cupboard.

Most other sporting federations have already followed the lead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by delegating the handling of drug cases to the Anti-doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) because it's fully independent so removes any hint of bias.

The division was created in 2016 as a critical part of the IOC's Agenda2020 reforms - and every international sporting federation was clearly told why they need to be fully transparent on doping matters.

The message was simple: if sporting federations want to remain credible, doping cases need to be taken out of their hands and handled by an independent body to avoid any perception of favouritism.

Most sporting federations got straight on board but the notable exception was FINA, who refuse - still to this day - to hand over the management of anti-doping cases to fully independent bodies.

FINA's notoriously authoritarian leaders are still insisting on appointing their own arbitrators to their own doping panel - the same panel that cleared Sun of any wrongdoing even after he admitted using a hammer to destroy vials containing his blood samples at a random out-of-competition test at his home in China in September, 2018.

That shocking verdict has now been overturned by the CAS arbitrators who threw the book at Sun and rightfully banned him for eight years for one of the most brazen acts of cheating in sports history but CAS remains powerless to strip the twice-convicted cheat of his medals because of the way FINA screwed up.

When FINA first charged Sun, they decided not to impose a provisional suspension, for reasons they have still not explained, even though that is common practice when an athlete is notified about an infraction.

This is why Shayna Jack was not allowed to compete for Australia at last year's world championships even though her case has still not been heard.

But because Sun was not given a provisional penalty, and did not subsequently test positive at the world championships, CAS was prevented from backdating his penalty to the time he committed the offence.

Instead, his punishment only kicked in on Friday when the CAS verdict was released, meaning he keeps the gold medal, the title and the prize money that should be Horton's.

It'll be a travesty if Sun keeps the medals and why Australian athletics' great Raelene Boyle - who was robbed of gold by East German drug cheats in the 1970s - is backing the #GIVEMACKGOLD campaign.