Horton slams Yang as drug cheat

By Laine Clark
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Horton claims Olympic 400m gold

Australia's Mack Horton has claimed 400m freestyle gold at the Rio Olympics on Saturday night.

Australia's Mack Horton hopes to have inspired other athletes to speak out about drug cheats after triumphing over China's controversial Sun Yang to claim Olympic gold in the 400m freestyle.

The 20-year-old did not back down on his strong stance against Yang, dismissing him as a drug cheat after describing his stunning gold medal success as a "win for the good guys".

He clocked a personal best three minutes, 41.55 seconds to seal the stirring win ahead of defending champion Yang.

Italy's Gabriele Detti claimed bronze.

Yang served a three-month ban for testing positive to a banned stimulant in 2014.

Horton had no regrets about calling out Yang.

"I don't think it is a big statement because it is true, he has tested positive," he said.

"No athlete has really come forward and said it.

"It wouldn't have felt right if I raced against someone who had tested positive and didn't bring it up.

"Hopefully others will follow."

Teammate Cate Campbell - part of Australia's 4x100m women's relay team that claimed gold in a world record on Saturday - said it was too soon for her to speak out.

"There will be a time and a place for me to address that issue but it's not right now," she said.

"Right now I'm an Olympic gold medallist and part of a world record breaking relay team and now is not the time to be talking about drugs or other countries."

Horton said he had been planned the attack on Yang after reading Swimming Australia president John Bertrand's account of his famous 1983 America's Cup yachting triumph which ended 132 years of US supremacy.

"It was something I thought of beforehand," he said.

"It was taking a leaf out of John Bertrand's book ....(in 1983) he just referred to it (US) as the 'red boat'.

"He kind of desensitised from it.

"Sun Yang is just the drug cheat."

Horton tried to play down a personal rivalry with Yang but clearly there was no love lost.

"Definitely a win for the good guys," he told Channel Seven.

"Don't know if it was a rivalry between me and him, just me and an athlete who has tested positive I guess."

Horton became the first Australian since Ian Thorpe (2004) to claim the Olympic 400m freestyle crown.

"Welcome to the Australian 400m Olympic Champion Club! Well done mate!!" Thorpe tweeted.

Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren threw his weight behind Horton's bold stance against drug cheats.

"To be honest everyone thinks the same way," he said.

"As a swimming organisation we have zero tolerance to drugs.

"It's the same as saying we don't like drug cheats.

"He made a statement not in words but also performance which is fantastic."

Verhaeren revealed Horton had predicted his 400m win.

"Before the race he felt confident otherwise you don't do that (call out Yang)," he said.

"Sometimes athletes just know they are going to do something special.

"And Mack just said that to me he knew what he was going to do (in 400m final)."