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Australia Rejects Calls For Apology From Horton

Australia has flatly rejected calls for an apology over swimmer Mack Horton's controversial comments about Chinese swimmer Sun Yang.

A war of words was sparked by Horton, who dismissed Sun as a drug cheat after beating him to claim the 400m freestyle gold medal on the opening night of the Rio Games.

China has demanded an apology but the International Olympic Committee says it has not yet received a formal complaint and does not intend to investigate further.

Spokesman Mark Adams has also given Horton qualified support.

"People say many things after competition and they're entitled to say those things," he said on Monday.

Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller says there will be no apology.

"Mack obviously has very strong views about the need for clean sport, as every single one of us does," she said.

"He has every right to express his views and his displeasure in that sense.

"We have no intention of making an apology."

Horton also has the support of other medal-winning Aussies, trap shooting gold medallist Catherine Skinner and bronze medal-winning synchronised swimmers Maddison Keeney and Annabelle Smith, who backed his anti-drugs stance.

"I'm all for clean sport. Everyone should have an equal playing field," Keeney said.

"I support Mack. I'm with him all the way."

Horton called his 400m triumph over Sun a "win for the good guys", in reference to the dual London Olympic gold medallist serving a three-month ban for testing positive to banned stimulant trimetazidine in 2014.

But the China swimming team was unimpressed.

"We have been noticing what has been said in the past two days by Horton, who launched a malicious personal attack (on Sun)," team manager Xu Qi told online news service Chinagate.

"We think his inappropriate words greatly hurt the feelings between Chinese and Australian swimmers.

"It is proof of a lack of good manners and upbringing.

"We strongly demand an apology from this swimmer."

Adams said the IOC wanted to encourage freedom of speech but the Olympics was also about respecting the right of others to compete.

"There is a line somewhere there where people should be free to compete in tranquillity," he said.

Chiller said she didn't think Horton would be too fazed by the controversy.

"Mack is in a pretty good place. He's got probably his best event coming up in a few days and I know he, like all the swimmers, are focused on their own event, their own lane," she said.

"I would hazard a guess that it wouldn't affect him at all."

AAP

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