By Peter Rutherford
GWANGJU, South Korea (Reuters) – The executive director of swimming’ s governing body FINA Cornel Marculescu said on Sunday he hoped there would be no repeat of the podium protests that marred the world championships this week and that athletes would lose their medals if there was.
Australia’s silver medallist Mack Horton refused to share the podium with Sun Yang after his victory in the 400 metres freestyle last week, while Briton Duncan Scott shunned the Chinese swimmer on the podium after the 200.
The protests were “unfortunate” and the incidents had brought the sport “into disrepute”, said Marculescu.
Swimmers could be stripped of their medals for similar serious deviations from FINA regulations in the future as it was “part of the sanction”.
The Romanian also told reporters that it was FINA’s policy to not discuss ongoing doping cases until a decision had been reached and said the “super-transparent” governing body was at the forefront of the anti-doping fight.
Marculescu’s comments came in the wake of Australian swimmer Shayna Jack’s admission that she had tested positive for a banned substance late last month. Jack withdrew from Australia’s squad shortly before the swimming championships began.
Swimming Australia on Sunday defended their decision to conceal Jack’s positive test at a time when her team mate Horton was conducting a high-profile public campaign against Sun in Gwangju.
Marculescu said FINA did not comment on Jack’s positive test because the final decision had not been reached. He also said Jack was “… not the only one, there are another two. But we need to finish the case.”
Marculescu said the other two cases were not Australian athletes but he gave no further details and did not specify whether they were related to the world championships.
Marculescu, speaking at a news conference on the final day of the world championships, said the problem between Horton and Sun was “probably more a personal issue than a doping issue”.
“It’s more, ‘You beat me, I must beat you somehow,’” he said, adding that the swimmers may now be regretting their actions. “Sometimes we make mistakes.”
FINA’s doping panel cleared triple Olympic champion Sun of a doping offence in January but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is appealing the case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in September.
Sun also served a three-month suspension for doping in 2014.
“The doping panel is a totally independent body. They decided, you’ve see the decision and reasons,” he said.
“Whatever CAS decides we need to accept.”
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)