DUNCAN Scott doesn’t look like a loser to me.

The 22-year-old from Clackmannanshire, just hours back in his native Scotland, is seated in a local hotel, with the world championship gold and bronze medals he has just earned out in Gwangju, South Korea, located on the table in front of him. For the record, there is no sign of the warning letter swimming governing body FINA sent to him after he refused to shake hands or be pictured with Sun Yang after his controversial Chinese rival – who has one previous doping conviction behind him and a court case pending at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) - beat him into third place in the 200m freestyle final.

“You’re a loser, I’m a winner,” said Sun during that flashpoint, angrily confronting the Scot for a stance which was both a clarion call for the anti-doping cause in his sport and a show of solidarity with Australia’s Mack Horton, who had done likewise a day or two earlier. With the crowd gathered around the pool picking sides, it would have been easy for the Scot to lose his cool. But, as this 22-year-old admitted in his first major interview since the affair yesterday, it takes more than a 6ft 6in Chinaman to throw him off his stride.

“I have had a lot scarier people shout scarier things at me than that!” said Scott. “What would you have done? Square up to a 6ft 6in guy? I was surprised by his reaction but my stance was not to do with him, it was more about the bigger culture, all of it. It was quite a surreal moment, the crowd was quite split, but it was what it was.


READ MORE: Golden end in Gwangju as Scott leads team to victory

“Personally, I liked getting on the podium. It was a big moment for ME too - my first individual world medal, another stepping stone for myself. It has been a good couple of years, first individual medal last year then moving it on again this year.”

Scott gives the impression of being a somewhat reluctant hero in the doping fight, a sportsperson first and foremost who would quite happily never have had to make a stand like this. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t sticking to his guns. He pays tribute to his Great Britain team-mates for allowing normality to return quickly enough for him to produce his finest swim of the meet, as he anchored Great Britain home to a sensational 4x100m medley relay gold with a last leg time of 46.14 which was the second fastest in history.

But needs must, and as the seconds ticked down to his medal ceremony for that 200m freestyle bronze medal, he knew he had a decision to make. Judging by the death threats and intimidation from Sun’s army of fans which followed, Scott’s life may never be the same. Which makes it wise indeed that he has deleted the apps altogether.

“I thought about it before I went up,” recalls Scott. “I wasn’t just standing there and then going ‘you know what, I’m going to do this’. I didn’t shake his hand in the presentation room beforehand, hence his reaction.

“But it wasn’t anything to do with him specifically, it wasn’t about shaking his hand, it was about the bigger picture. We got a call from the Team GB media guy. He said: Is Duncan going to do anything on the podium. I need to know now.’ I suppose then that I thought ‘Yeah, I’m going to be on the podium and he [Sun] is going to be there too.’ It was a weird situation. I was in fourth and then there was a dq (Lithuanian Dana Rapsys, who originally won the race). So at first I didn’t know if I was going to medal.


READ MORE: Duncan Scott hoping for a little help from his friends to finish World Championships on a high

“I didn’t do it for the social media attention, I didn’t do it because I want money. I would have picked another sport if I had wanted money. I do it because there are things I want to achieve in the sport at the highest level. The number of messages I have got saying ‘he’s an attention seeker’ Aye, right, brilliant.

As for the death threats etc, Scott “literally hasn’t seen anything”. “The only things I have seen is screenshots that people have shown me after the competition,” he added. “I always go off social media going into a meet anyway, but I’ve gone further off it than usual. This time I deleted the apps completely. I’ve got to be grateful for the support I got from the whole British team, it helped me to handle the rest of the meet. And not get sort of carried away with this extra emotion which was pointless.”

When Scott sits down with his coach Steven Tigg this week to conduct a full post-mortem into Gwangju, it may be a bit of a mixed bag. For starters, had he gone better earlier in the meet he might have ended up with different medals and thought twice about withdrawing from the 100m freestyle due to the tightness of the schedule. But having dealt with such adversity and come out the other end, he might just have seen him learn something even more valuable. “I have learned quite a lot about myself, I have learned quite a lot about handling emotion, about having a quick turnaround in the pool,” said Scott. “It was quite a different situation and it will be good for the future.”

CAS will decide whether Scott and Sun are pitched back into battle in Tokyo in 12 months’ time, would he do the same thing again? “It is not something I’ve thought about. But I guess, for a start that would mean that I am on the podium!”