Mack Horton returned to the athlete's camp at the World Swimming Championships in late hours Sunday evening and was greeted by the thunderous ovations. He did not defeat Sun Yang in the pool, but his status as a cult anti-doping figure among his swimmers was only on the last act of defiance.
Just a few hours earlier, the Australian refused to stand on the big Chinese Grand Slam after Sun had crossed his 400m freestyle gold medal. Horton finished second, winning silver at the Reverse Epic Olympic Final in 2016.
What followed was talk of the world of swimming. Sun, who competes under the cloud here in South Korea after breaking a bottle of blood last year to avoid testing, and Horton are not friends at best. Horton called it Drug Drugs & # 39; in Ri, considering the positive test of 2014 and the secret ban.
* FitzSimons: No respect, no handling
* Aussie swimmer snubs Chinese winner
* Horton's Drug Launcher & # 39; mock the mind game
* Chinese rage after Aussie steals his hero
* Aussies intolerable of Horton's mockery
The Sun could be banned for life in September because Wada filed a complaint to the Fine Doping Panel ruling that released him for breaking the bottle.
When the time came for the medal ceremony, Horton received his medal and then returned to the pod. He did not want to shake off the sun's hand or pose for photographs with him. It was a moment of high drama in the Sage that has divided and united parts of Olympic sports.
Lilly King, one of the most famous floating swimmers in the world, and the way he was run by Fina's governing body, was a moment to enjoy.
"It was pretty nice, honest. We were waiting for the award ceremony to see what would happen and that was terrible," King said on Monday.
"When we entered the dining room, he came in for us and the entire dining room came out with applause, so it was pretty good to see athletes who united in his attitude and supported him.
"I do not think anyone in Fini will get up for athletes, so athletes have to stand up for themselves. That is definitely the beginning, and if we start tackling doping then we may be listening."
The American representative, the backstroker champion Ryan Murphy, was another American who stood behind Horton. He said that this should be interpreted as a protest against sport management, not against the sun itself.
"It's good for Macka, first of all, he's a really good guy, I can testify. He has his firm beliefs and I think it's really good to feel comfortable getting up for those who are not necessarily against the Sun, but more opposed to Fini and Wadi for their response to these things, "Murphy said.
"I'm glad he felt comfortable when he did it, so good for him. I do not know Fina and Wadine's motives, so if I do, then I think we could probably plan an effective way of protesting."
Australian backstroker and swimmer Mitch Larkin backed his teammate from Delfin, saying he represented a large majority of elite swimmers in frustration because of how Fina resolved that thing, which Wada now sent to the November Arbitration Tribunal.
"I think 100 percent of Aussie's athletes will certainly return to Macka, and I said before that last night I was standing on the podium, he did not stand alone," Larkin said.
"Ninety nine percent of the athlete here supports what he is doing. We are all fighting for pure sport and you have to believe that the performance you are doing and the training you are doing is enough to get you across the line."
Kyle Chalmers swam alongside the Sun in the 200m free-of-heat heat on Monday, but kept a certain distance from controversy, preferring to focus on their races and hopefully they will do so.
"It's Mack's decision to do such things. At the end of the day, Sun is here, the Sun racing and we just have to do what we can to swim our best races." I do not worry about their competitors. " I'm worried about my own race and learning to swim 200 m, "Chalmers said.
Mack has done a few of these things now and firmly believes in it, and that's fine.
Horton's father, Andrew, spoke on Monday with 3AW and said his protests should not be interpreted as an insult to China, as Sun pointed out, but in the confused way in which Fina solved the question that was to be clarified long before the 2019 meeting.
"I think he was frustrated and disappointed, like many athletes, that this question was marked by world championships," he said.
"It's not a comment on China, we have great respect for China, it's about securing the systems and processes in sport that keep sport clean."
It may have been intentional, but there is no doubt that Chinese swimming authorities and dozens of swimming enthusiasts have once again hacked Horton, who had predictably had his social media clogged with bullying, malicious threats and ubiquitous poo emo, especially favoring online mobs.
Horton returns to the 800-meter hot tub on Wednesday, where one of the worst personal rivals of world sports will write his next chapter.