How Team GB hero Duncan Scott stood up to Chinese drug cheat

One of Britain’s hero swimmers secured a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics today, two years after he sensationally refused to join a Chinese drug cheat on the podium and prompted a furious exchange.

Duncan Scott put in a huge effort today to ensure Britain scooped their third swimming gold at an Olympics for the first time in 113 years, one day after the Glaswegian had finished runner-up to his best friend Tom Dean.

Scott, Dean, James Guy and Matthew Richards triumphed in the 4×200 metres freestyle relay final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre today, 24 hours after Scott claimed a silver medal in yesterday’s individual race.

The joyous scenes this week come after the World Championships in South Korea in July 2019 where Scott caused a stir by refusing to join Sun Yang of China on the platform after claiming the bronze medal behind him. 

Defending champion Sun was prohibited from taking part in the Tokyo Olympics for a doping violation, and is now serving a ban of more than four years –  although he could be eligible to return for the 2024 Paris Games. 

Brit swimmer Duncan Scott (right) had a row with gold medallist Sun Yang (left, in yellow) at the 2019 World Championships

Brit swimmer Duncan Scott (right) had a row with gold medallist Sun Yang (left, in yellow) at the 2019 World Championships

Scott refused to shake hands with drug cheat Sun and would not stand next to him on the podium in South Korea in 2019

Scott refused to shake hands with drug cheat Sun and would not stand next to him on the podium in South Korea in 2019

Scott refused to shake hands with drug cheat Sun and would not stand next to him on the podium in South Korea in 2019

Scott caused a stir by refusing to join Chinese winner Sun on the podium in 2019 after claiming the bronze medal behind him

Scott caused a stir by refusing to join Chinese winner Sun on the podium in 2019 after claiming the bronze medal behind him

Scott caused a stir by refusing to join Chinese winner Sun on the podium in 2019 after claiming the bronze medal behind him

Sun gestures to Scott following the medal ceremony in the men's 200m freestyle final at the World Championships in 2019

Sun gestures to Scott following the medal ceremony in the men's 200m freestyle final at the World Championships in 2019

Sun gestures to Scott following the medal ceremony in the men’s 200m freestyle final at the World Championships in 2019

At the 2019 Championships, Sun, who also served a three-month doping ban in 2014, was elevated to the gold medal position in the 200m freestyle after Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys was disqualified for movement on the blocks. 

Scott, awarded bronze, stood apart following the medal presentation and declined to stand on the top step of the podium for pictures – prompting a furious reaction from Sun who shouted at him: ‘You’re a loser, I’m a winner’

Scott’s stance was cheered by the majority of the arena, barring a vocal section of Chinese supporters – but the extraordinary scenes led to both swimmers being issued with a warning from FINA, the sport’s governing body.

It followed their decision to warn Mack Horton after the Australian refused to share a podium with Sun following the 400m freestyle earlier in the Championships. Horton had called Sun a ‘drug cheat’ at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

After the 2019 incident, Scott said: ‘If Sun can’t respect our sport, why should I respect him?’. This stance was backed by his fellow British swimmer Adam Peaty who said he ‘wouldn’t even get on the podium’ with Sun.

On Tuesday last year, world and Olympic champion Sun’s hopes of competing at Tokyo ended when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced his ban for doping violations to four years from eight.

(From left) Tom Dean, James Guy, Matthew Richards and Duncan Scott of Team GB celebrate with their gold medals today

(From left) Tom Dean, James Guy, Matthew Richards and Duncan Scott of Team GB celebrate with their gold medals today

(From left) Tom Dean, James Guy, Matthew Richards and Duncan Scott of Team GB celebrate with their gold medals today

James, Dean, Duncan and Metthew celebrate in Tokyo today after they won the men's 4 x 200m freestyle swimming relay

James, Dean, Duncan and Metthew celebrate in Tokyo today after they won the men's 4 x 200m freestyle swimming relay

James, Dean, Duncan and Metthew celebrate in Tokyo today after they won the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle swimming relay

Scott, Dean, Guy and Richards of Team GB stand on the podium after wining gold in the 4x200 relay at Tokyo 2020

Scott, Dean, Guy and Richards of Team GB stand on the podium after wining gold in the 4x200 relay at Tokyo 2020

Scott, Dean, Guy and Richards of Team GB stand on the podium after wining gold in the 4×200 relay at Tokyo 2020

The shorter sentence, announced by the Swiss-based court, means Sun will be eligible for the Paris Games in 2024 when he will be 32 years old.

Tom Dean is first British man in 113 years to win two swimming golds at the same Olympic Games

British swimmer Tom Dean, 21

British swimmer Tom Dean, 21

British swimmer Tom Dean, 21

Tom Dean has become the first British man in 113 years to win two swimming golds at the same Olympics after victory in today’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay, despite suffering from two bouts of Covid-19 in the past year.

Just six months ago, the 21-year-old swimmer from Berkshire was ‘wheezing’ so much with coronavirus that he struggled even to climb the stairs at home.

But his superb exploits in Tokyo today and yesterday have been watched 6,000 miles away in Maidenhead, with family and friends gathering in mother Jacquie Hughes’s garden to watch on a big screen. 

The mechanical engineering student at the University of Bath put his degree on hold for two years to compete.

Miss Hughes, 58, a successful media executive who has been a single mother for eight years, has said ‘half of Maidenhead will be at the airport to cheer him home with banners and flags’ when he returns to Britain. 

She has also told how it was ‘hard’ as a single mother to take her children to the pool especially in the darker months, saying: ‘I’ve got five children so it was the sheer physical and emotional effort of getting five of them out of bed every morning through the winter, and getting them to the pool, and then getting them back and getting myself to work in London. 

‘I’ve been a single parent for the past eight years so I was doing the bulk of it on my own, and it was tricky enough when there was two of us doing it.’

She added that Dean’s older sister Connie inspired him when he was ‘distracted’ as a teenage boy aged 13 or 14, because her committed training regime helped him get ‘more and more hungry for what success might be’.  

He now is the only British male swimmer to claim two golds at the same Games in more than a century, following in the footsteps of Henry Taylor, who prevailed in the men’s freestyle 400m and 1500m races in 1908.

Dean told the BBC today: ‘I can’t even put it into words. I couldn’t yesterday and I can’t today. I can’t thank these boys enough, from the bottom of my heart. Unreal.’

The 200m freestyle champion was banned after he and members of his entourage were found to have smashed vials containing blood samples taken at an out-of-competition test in September 2018.

A highly controversial figure in swimming but with plenty of supporters at home, Sun had questioned the credentials and identity of the testers and has constantly proclaimed his innocence.

The 29-year-old, who also won two golds at London 2012, had been boosted by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court last December upholding his challenge against the CAS panel on grounds that a judge had exhibited possible bias against Chinese people.

But the latest CAS panel, chaired by a different president, found that Sun had ‘acted recklessly’ in refusing to allow the blood samples to leave.

It considered the circumstances surrounding the sample collection ‘merited a period of ineligibility at the lower end of the range’.

‘Consequently, the panel concluded that a period of ineligibility of four years and three months commencing on February 28, 2020 is to be imposed on Sun Yang,’ it said.

Sun served a three-month doping suspension in 2014 for taking the stimulant trimetazidine, which he said he took to treat a heart condition.

FINA said in a statement that it acknowledged the CAS ruling and would enforce it ‘according to its terms, and in accordance with its obligations as a Signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code.’

As for Scott today, he helped Britain scoop their third swimming gold at an Olympics for the first time in 113 years, one day after the Glaswegian had finished runner-up to his best friend Tom Dean.

The 24-year-old three-time world champion in relay events, who won Commonwealth gold in the 100m freestyle three years ago, was Scotland’s first medallist of the Games yesterday.

Scott, who has dyslexia, was taught to swim by his father in a pool in Troon before attending Strathallan School on a sports scholarship.

Aged 16, he won eight golds at the Scottish Age Group Nationals while older sister Alex was once the women’s swimming captain at the University of Dundee.

The gold medal today caps off an impressive few months for Scott who graduated from the University of Stirling with a 2:1 in business and sport studies in June.

He said today: ‘For myself and Jimmy (Guy) in particular, we’ve been on so many 4x2s together. We’ve been able to win worlds, Europeans, but this one’s always – in 2016 we finished second and that was a monster achievement at the time. 

‘It’s really special with these boys. Matt in third was so composed and the boys up front executed their race plans really well. So close to a world record in the end – if anything I’m a bit gutted!’ 

Also today, an emotional James Guy reflected on a ‘dream come true’ as he finally got his hands on an Olympic gold medal after helping Great Britain to victory in the men’s 4×200 metres freestyle relay final.

Following his triumph in the individual event the previous day, Dean became the first British male swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Games since 1908, but this was a team effort at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Jacquie Hughes has been supporting her son Tom Dean today,  6,000 miles away from Tokyo in Maidenhead, Berkshire

Jacquie Hughes has been supporting her son Tom Dean today,  6,000 miles away from Tokyo in Maidenhead, Berkshire

Jacquie Hughes has been supporting her son Tom Dean today,  6,000 miles away from Tokyo in Maidenhead, Berkshire

Simon and Amanda Richards watched their son Matt Richards scoop the gold medal from their home in Droitwich today

Simon and Amanda Richards watched their son Matt Richards scoop the gold medal from their home in Droitwich today

Simon and Amanda Richards watched their son Matt Richards scoop the gold medal from their home in Droitwich today

Dean started solidly if unspectacularly, perhaps feeling the exertions of his recent endeavours, and it was Guy who got Team GB into the lead at halfway before Matthew Richards and Duncan Scott closed the show in style.

Matt Richards speaks of ‘honour’ as dad says: ‘I’ve had worse Wednesdays’

Matt Richards enjoyed a memorable first Olympics at the age of 18, and played his part in the gold medal despite being the most inexperienced of the British quartet.

During lockdown, Richards, who usually trains in Bath, came up with a creative solution for his training in April when swimming pools were still closed – and posted a video of him swimming in a pool set up in the garden of his home.

The teenager from Droitwich, Worcestershire, spoke confidently today about this being just the beginning of a dominant period in the event for Britain.

He said: ‘It’s an honour to have this hanging round my neck. Forever now, this will be something that I can say I was part of and it will be something I can tell my kids and hopefully my grandkids about one day.

‘As far as I’m concerned this is just the very beginning. This team of lads has got so much potential and the youngsters that are coming up through British swimming at the moment is just so exciting.’

Richards described swimming with his teammates as ‘a privilege’. ‘The confidence that gives someone, and the experience – money can’t buy it,’ he said.

His parents, Simon and Amanda Richards, watched their son scoop the gold medal from their home in Droitwich.

His father told Good Morning Britain: ‘It’s a bit weird, but, I’m not gonna lie, as I’ve said, I’ve had worse Wednesdays. The trauma and the nerves (when watching them) are quite unreal… It feels like a very, very long time since he was eight years old and started swimming.’

Earlier, Mr Richards, took to Twitter this morning to post a picture of him celebrating with a pint, saying: ‘Doesn’t everyone drink beer at 0445hrs?!?!’ 

Former England and Great Britain Olympic swimmer Marc Spackman, who coached Richards from the age of 13, said the teenager always had high hopes for Olympic glory.

He told the BBC: ‘He came into my programme with a dream and he wanted to be an Olympic champion. He ate in that way, he trained in that way. He’s got that result now, which is unbelievable.’ 

Richards attended Bishop Perowne Church of England College and trained at both Droitwich Leisure Centre and then Royal Wolverhampton Swimming Club, before moving to the National Centre in Bath last year.  

The time of six minutes and 58.58 seconds set a new European benchmark and was just three hundredths of a second behind the world record still held by a Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte-inspired US 12 years ago.

It was a special moment for Guy, who won two relay silvers at Rio 2016 and finished fourth in the individual 200m freestyle event there. Having finally scaled the mountain, he was in tears by the time Scott touched the wall here.

‘It’s a dream come true,’ said Guy, who was crying in the stands the day before after watching training partner Dean become Britain’s first Olympic male champion in an individual freestyle event in more than a century.

‘Being a young lad I was dreaming of Olympic gold, that’s all I’ve ever wanted in my life is to get that and now I’ve done it. It just shows if you’ve got a plan, you work hard, when you believe in yourself it can happen.

‘All the early mornings, all the years of getting up at 10 past four, we’re here and it’s finally nice to do it.

‘Hurting me most was getting fourth in Rio and obviously Tom getting gold yesterday, my training partner, I felt like I was swimming with him, that’s why I was so emotional. For him to do that is a dream come true for me.’

Dean’s time turned out to be the slowest of the quartet but Britain still sat third and after Guy and then 18-year-old Richards helped Britain into a one-second lead, Scott put in a sensational split of 1min 43.45secs.

Scott was runner-up to Dean the day before in a historic one-two finish but the Glaswegian’s effort on Wednesday made sure Britain scooped their third swimming gold at an Olympics for the first time in 113 years.

Dean, who revealed he has had coronavirus twice inside the past year, said: ‘It feels pretty special. Double Olympic champion sounds pretty good. The last 24 hours have been unreal, a complete whirlwind.

‘This was our best, best, best case scenario. The way Jimmy and I have been training in Bath and the times he’s been dropping, I’ve never had a shadow of doubt in my mind and it came together like we knew it would.’

His earlier success was followed by a video emerging showing his family and friends celebrating in his hometown of Maidenhead. Asked whether his latest gold would bring more of the same he replied: ‘They might be. They love it.’

The Russian Olympic Committee took silver, pipping third-placed Australia by three hundredths of a second, but the teams were more than three seconds behind Britain, thanks to a late surge from Scott.

‘It meant quite a lot, (especially to) myself and Jimmy,’ said Scott, who now has a gold medal to go with his three Olympic silvers. ‘It was great to do it with him.’

The US had won this event at the past four Olympics but, without Phelps and Lochte, they settled for fourth.

Richards, the most inexperienced of the British quartet, spoke confidently about this being just the beginning of a dominant period in the event for his nation.

‘It’s an honour to have this hanging round my neck,’ said the teenager. ‘Forever now, this will be something that I can say I was part of and it will be something I can tell my kids and hopefully my grandkids about one day.

‘As far as I’m concerned this is just the very beginning. This team of lads has got so much potential and the youngsters that are coming up through British swimming at the moment is just so exciting.’ 

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