Olympics-Horton unconcerned if Sun swims in Tokyo

SYDNEY, May 13 (Reuters) - Mack Horton is unconcerned whether Sun Yang escapes a ban and races at the Tokyo Games and more worried about getting through the Australian trials and booking his own spot in Japan, the Olympic champion said on Thursday.

Multiple Olympic and world champion Sun’s appeal against an eight-year ban for missing an out-of-competition doping test will be heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later this month.

Horton has been outspoken about Sun’s doping record in the past, calling the Chinese swimmer a “drug cheat” before beating him to win 400m freestyle gold at the Rio Olympics and refusing to take to the podium with him at the 2019 world championships.

“I don’t really follow it to be honest, I just focus on my day to day training getting ready for trials,” Horton told Reuters at the unveiling of Australia’s swimming kit for Tokyo.

“Every international meet I’ve competed at, he’s been there, so it doesn’t really matter if he’s (in Tokyo) or not. I’m used to it.”

Horton’s refusal to take the podium with Sun after winning silver at the Gwangju world championships earned him a warning from swimming’s world governing body FINA.

Were he to repeat the protest in Tokyo, as he has previously suggested he might, there is a chance he could fall foul of the International Olympic Committee’s Article 50, which bans any “kind of demonstration” at Olympic venues.

Horton said he felt that Article 50, which has also been criticised by athletes who wish to signal their support for the fight against racial injustice, was outdated.

“I think people should be able to share their opinions and thoughts and stand up for what they believe in,” the 25-year-old added.

“Particularly in the climate we’re in at the moment, so many people are so vocal about so many issues, it’s not really in touch with where the world’s at.”

First and foremost in Horton’s mind at the moment, however, is beating a talented younger generation of Australian 400m swimmers at the trial in Adelaide next month.

“That’s a really high pressure meet,” he said. “That’s probably more stressful than the actual Olympics, just because there’s so much depth and we have to make the team.” (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)