Horton flooded with apologies from Sun’s fans
Australian anti-drugs crusader Mack Horton is still being inundated with messages on his social media accounts from China in the wake of Sun Yang's career-ending eight-year ban.
But there's been an unexpected and heartwarming twist.
Now that the full report from the Court of Arbitration for Sport has been released and ordinary Chinese citizens have finally been told the truth about Sun's outrageous behaviour, Horton's decision to protest is now being seen in a totally different light.
Instead of death threats and abuse, Horton is now receiving apologies from China while Sun is copping the backlash after he was not only proven to have destroyed his only blood samples before it could be tested but showed no remorse for his boorish behaviour, tried to blame everyone else and was even accused of trying to intimidate the witnesses.
"I apologise to those who insulted you. Even if everyone attacks you like this, you have never made hate speech against China. Now everyone knows the truth and supports you to maintain the fairness of the game. Lot of Respect," Zhaoxiliuu posted on Horton's Instagram page.
Another post from shutianjuanwo123 said: "Sorry, on behalf of myself after knowing the specific rules and getting true information, I realised how this actually happened.
"You are really honest and brave … when trapped into argument, one should face the fact instead of spreading fake news to arouse the public's emotion, like nationalism. Kind of disappointed at him. Anyway, feel really sorry.'
Fredsang wrote: "Some Chinese don't know they misunderstood you until today. They owed u an apology. Please don't mind."
@_mackhorton Hi, Mr.Horton. I am a Chinese fan of swimming. SunYang is so bad. He is good at telling lies. He is lier and he has deceived many Chinese people. I support you! SunYang pollutes the swimming pool. He is not a good swimmer. Thx Mack.— kurisu725 (@kurisu23111961) March 5, 2020
And another from bambooshootsaward said: "As a Chinese, I am sorry that my countrymen have hurt you with naive nationalism. We also know that Chinese swimming pools 20 years ago were not clean.
"But we originally thought that this was a past problem. China does not need several gold medals to support national confidence, but we are wrong.
"Our stupid bureaucracy and nationalism have not improved much.
"We must apologise this time. I agree with your idea that the pool needs to be clean. Sincerely hope that you are not too disappointed with China, he is still a promising country."
The turnaround in China's attitudes to Horton speaks volumes about the level of mistruth they were told about the case and will be great relief for the Australian, who has always made the point his protests were never against the nation of China or even Sun Yang.
Horton's beef was always with the sport's governing body FINA for not taking a tough enough stance on doping in swimming and they are the ones who should be apologies to him - as well as stripping the gold medal off Sun and giving it to the Australian.
That got misreported not only in China - but also in Australia where some gullible media commentators fell for Sun's outrageous lies and began peddling his line that it was the fault of the drug testers and a racist conspiracy.
Liang.huidong's apology was typical of the messages Horton is now receiving.
"I am never one of the people bully you on the internet, but I do want to apologise for what Chinese people have done to you," he said.
"And I don't wish for your forgiveness as the pain they cause is too much to forgive. Nevertheless, I hope you can feel better when the truth come out and what you have done is recognised."