Britain’s Duncan Scott stages his podium protest against Sun Yang at World Championships in South Korea (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
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Duncan Scott, the British star who stood up to a convicted doper, has received the full backing of Olympic great Rebecca Adlington, writes Alex Spink in Tokyo.
Swimming chiefs have placed a ban on competitors protesting inside the Tokyo Aquatics Centre at these Games.
The move follows a written warning to Scott over behaviour they deemed “inadequate” when he refused to share a medal ceremony with China’s twice-banned Sun Yang at the World Championships.
But two-time Olympic champion Adlington insists the Glaswegian has done nothing wrong and goes into competition here with the support of his peers.
“I think it was right for Duncan to take the stand he did,” said the Mansfield Mermaid.
“Throughout swimming history things have been largely left to the officials. But why should you, as an athlete, have to stand up on the blocks and sometimes feel ‘I can’t win this because I’m 100 per cent clean’.
Adlington: “I think it was right for Duncan to take the stand he did”
(Image: Getty Images)
“That’s a horrible place to be. No athlete should ever be in that position. It’s only fair athletes do have more of a voice.
“Duncan acted in a very respectful way," added Adlington, who is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB . "He didn’t get angry, he wasn’t yelling, he didn’t get into Sun Yang’s face like Sun Yang did to him. He is respected and admired for it.”
He is also one of the busiest athletes at these Games, potentially swimming in 10 of the 15 sessions and tipped to win four medals.
Adlington: "Duncan didn’t get angry, he wasn’t yelling, he didn’t get into Sun Yang’s face like Sun Yang did to him"
(Image: Getty Images)
Yet he arrives to find the International Swimming Federation decreeing that the pool deck must remain “a sanctity for sport and nothing else”.
FINA President Hussain Al-Musallam said: "The pool deck is and must always remain a place of friendship and respect for the greater whole, not the individual. The same level of respect should be given to the podium."
Their stance is in keeping with the International Olympic Committee’s continued ban on medal protests, though Rule 50 has been relaxed to allow gestures to be made respectfully prior to competition.
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The tweak to the regulation does not go far enough, however, for Scott’s team mate Adam Peaty who would like to see clean athletes call out cheats.
“I’ve been very vocal about this since day one,” he said. “I’m not afraid to say it. You need more athletes to step up and say ‘this isn’t right’ and ‘why are they racing’?”
Adam Peaty: “I’m not afraid to say it. You need more athletes to step up and say ‘this isn’t right’ and ‘why are they racing’?”
Scott maintains his protest was “nothing personal against anyone”, rather in support of “clean sport”.
“Several people have made their voices heard for those reasons,” he argued. “Peaty comes out a lot and speaks about it well. As a team mate of his I’ve got to back what he says.”
Scott might play down his contribution to the anti-doping crusade, but team mate Kat Dawson said: “I respect that he did it and I’m proud he did what he did.
Adlington: "Duncan is respected and admired for what he did”
(Image: Getty Images)
“I think the sport (is better for stances like that) because things like Sun Yang can’t go unpunished – and it does seem to be going unpunished.”
Rebecca Adlington is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK or https://www.purplebricks.co.uk/team-gb