SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The coach of Brazil’s national swimming team says China’s Olympic champion Sun Yang tried to elbow and kick a female swimmer at the world championships on Sunday and that he has also caused problems for other teams.
Alberto Pinto da Silva, in comments carried by Brazilian sports news website globoesporte.com, said the incident occurred when Larissa Oliveira was warming up alongside the Chinese swimmer in the pool.
The website reported that the Brazilian Aquatic Sports Federation had made a formal complaint to FINA, swimming’s world ruling body.
“He was warming up and he pulled the Brazilian girl’s foot,” said the coach. “He ran her over. She got angry and had it out with him. He tried to elbow her and kick her.
“So then the Brazilian coaches went to speak to him. He said she was bothering him and one of the coaches said that the pool wasn’t just his. Everyone was at the side of the pool, and they were all swearing at each other.
“There were about 15 people right up at him. But there wasn’t any violence.”
Sun, who became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic swimming gold medal when he took the 400m and 1,500m freestyle double in London, later missed Sunday’s 1,500m freestyle final in Kazan due to what he said was a heart problem.
“I feel very sorry that I couldn’t be present for the 1500m,” Sun told reporters. “I didn’t feel good in my heart.
“Today I felt really uncomfortable at the pool during my warm-up and I had to give up the idea of competing. I feel really sorry about that.
“It happened after the warm-up as I was preparing for the competition. It is the first time I have felt uncomfortable in competition.”
When asked about the incident with the Brazilian swimmer during training in the adjacent pool, Sun said: “I have no comment because it was a morning problem”.
Pinto da Silva said other coaches had came to him with similar complaints about Sun.
“The Canadian (coach) came over to me and said, ‘he has already bothered my swimmers,’” Pinto said.
“The South African (coach) said he bothered the swimmers when they were swimming. Chile, Argentina, everyone came to tell me what do to. If he’s doing that to everyone then he’s a dangerous guy, he has no place in sport.”
Chinese swimming officials could not be reached for comment.
Sun, who was named the meet’s top male swimmer after winning the 400m and 800m freestyle titles and finishing second in the 200m, had been “very upset and aggressive” in the locker room, according to a fellow competitor.
A Danish swimmer, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters by email there had been a huge commotion with the Chinese delegation and that Sun had been agitated watching the 1,500 final on television in the locker room.
Sun has made just as many headlines away from the sport as he has in the pool.
He was banned by Chinese swimming authorities in 2013 after being jailed for crashing a car he had driven without a license.
It also emerged last year that Sun had secretly served a three-month ban after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
The China Anti-Doping Agency could have imposed a longer ban but opted for a lenient punishment because Sun had been given medication by a doctor to treat a heart issue and was unaware it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list.
Writing by Andrew Downie, additional reporting by Rod Gilmour, Editing by Peter Rutherford