REFILE-Olympics-Swimming-Chinese daily calls Australia "uncivilized" as swim row boils over
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By Brenda Goh
RIO DE JANEIRO Aug 8 (Reuters) - A Chinese state newspaper described Australia as "uncivilized" and "Britain's offshore prison" as it rushed to the defence of champion swimmer Sun Yang, who was labelled a drugs cheat by Australian rival and gold medallist Mack Horton.
The row, which started at the Rio Games with a friendly splash in training between the two arch rivals, is turning into a battle of national media commentators and underlines how the issue of doping has become a defining issue for these Olympics.
The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily, said Horton had shown a lack of respect to Sun and "cynical smugness" after beating the Chinese swimmer in the men's 400 metres freestyle final.
Sun, who finished second, was revealed two years ago to have secretly served a three-month suspension for using a banned stimulant. He said at the time the stimulant was in medication to treat a heart issue and did not enhance his performance.
Horton first described Sun as a "drug cheat" in an interview with Australian media on Saturday, hours ahead of the final, and has since stuck by his words, including at a post-race news conference while seated right next to Sun.
"It's not a big deal to us. In many serious essays written by Westerners, Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilization," the Global Times said in a commentary.
"In some cases, they refer to the country's early history as Britain's offshore prison," it added, referring to Australia's past as a British penal colony. Continuación...