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Duncan Scott, British swim star, out of world championships

Duncan Scott

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 28: Duncan Scott of Team Great Britain celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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Duncan Scott, who won four swimming medals and anchored a British relay to gold at the Olympics, will miss the world championships that start Saturday as he recovers from COVID-19.

“Since returning from covid I’ve been really struggling with high intensity!” Scott posted on social media. “Now it’s time to put my health first and focus on recovery.”

Scott, 25, posted on June 1 that he had COVID.

At the Tokyo Games, Scott anchored Great Britain to the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay title, the nation’s first relay gold since 1912. He had the fastest split of the 32-swimmer field by .95 of a second.

He also earned silver medals in the 200m free, 200m individual medley and as part of the 4x100m medley relay.

At the last world championships in 2019, Scott did not shake the hand of China’s Sun Yang at the medal ceremony for the 200m free, where Sun won gold and Scott shared bronze. Sun shouted in Scott’s direction before the Chinese anthem and later turned around as they left the podium, approached Scott and told him, “You’re a loser, I’m a winner,” pointing a finger in his face.

Scott did not appear to react strongly, but he did not join Sun and the other medalists for photos on the podium.

“If [Sun] can’t respect our sport then why should I respect him?” Scott said then, according to the BBC.

At the time, Sun was scheduled for a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing over reports that he and his security guard used a hammer to smash a vial of the swimmer’s blood in a clash with drug testers the previous year.

Sun was then banned for eight years over the incident in February 2020. That ban was reduced to four years on appeal, making Sun eligible to return in February 2024.

Scott’s absence from this year’s worlds will boost the U.S. chances in the men’s 4x200m free. In Tokyo, the Americans finished fourth to miss the podium in an Olympic relay that it entered for the first time in history.

The Americans have podium contenders in Scott’s individual Olympic medal events, too.

Chase Kalisz and Carson Foster rank Nos. 2 and 3 in the world this year in the 200m IM behind Scott. Kieran Smith was sixth in the 200m free in Tokyo.

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