Chinese Media Calls Australia ‘at the Fringes of Civilization’ After Criticism of Olympian

Australia's gold medallist Mack Horton (C), silver medallist China's Sun Yang (L) and bronze medallist Italy's Grabriele Detti pose on the podium after the Men's 400m Freestyle Final, at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 6

The Communist-backed Chinese media highlights Australia’s early history as a penal colony after Aussie Olympic swimmer Mack Horton criticized Chinese swimmer Sun Yang’s recent past issues with doping.

An editorial in the Global Times slams both Horton and Australia after the Aussie swimmer brought up their national swimming star’s doping problems.

Horton has been quite outspoken over how he feels about Yang’s past doping allegations. Not only did Horton refuse to shake Yang’s hand after winning a recent contest but he called him a doper to his face during the post-race press conference. Horton even said he felt spurred to push as hard as possible to beat Yang as a strike for drug-free athletes.

“The last 50m I was thinking about what I said and what would happen if he gets me here–I didn’t have a choice but to beat him,” Horton said at the presser.

The Aussie swimmer’s finger pointing set off a swirl of condemnation in China with the government-backed Global Times leading the pack.

“In many serious essays written by Westerners,” the paper says as it warmed to its attack on its regional neighbor, “Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilization. In some cases, they refer to the country’s early history as Britain’s offshore prison. This suggests that no one should be surprised at uncivilized acts emanating from the country.”

The paper also insisted that Horton really only threw out the “drug cheat” allegation to psych Yang out. Yang has other swimming contests ahead of him and the paper alleged that Horton was just trying to get into Yung’s head with a false charge.

Another of the paper’s tactics to turn the tables was insisting that Yang’s excellence intimidates Horton and because of that Horton had to lash out in a desperate attempt to rattle the Chinese Olympian’s mindset.

But despite the puffery of the Chinese media, Sun Yang did serve a three-month ban in 2014 for testing positive for drugs. The swimmer insisted the drugs in his system were meant to treat heart palpitations and had nothing to do with his sport, but he was handed the penalty anyway.

As The Guardian reports, Horton’s disparaging comments have been the top trending topic in China since the Aussie Olympian uttered them.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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