Geneva (Associated Press)-China’s most famous swimmer got a second chance to avoid the doping ban and participate in the Tokyo Olympics, but lost.
But this time, Sun Yang’s suspension is unlikely to end the career of the three-time Olympic champion.
A new panel of judges of the Sports Arbitration Court suspended the 29-year-old Sun on June 22 for a period of 4 years and 3 months-about half of the 8-year sanctions imposed after the first instance in 2019.
The verdict ended Sun’s hopes of defending the Olympic champion in the 200m freestyle in Tokyo next month. But this ban dates back to February 2020, which means that Sun Yang can return to the 2024 Paris Olympics at the age of 32.
The judge believed that Sun refused to allow anti-doping officials to leave his home with his blood samples and that his behavior was “reckless”. The formal allegations are refusal to provide samples and tampering with doping control. Sun denied wrongdoing. The eight-year ban he imposed last year was overturned when he appealed to the Swiss Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ordered a new trial.
The federal judge ruled that the first guilty verdict was tainted because the chair of the trio of CAS showed anti-China bias in social media comments.
The retrial was conducted by different judges via video within three days of last month and proceeded quickly before the Tokyo Olympics, which opened on July 23.
For the retrial, Sun’s legal team in Geneva was assisted by lawyers who successfully represented the Russian anti-doping agency and athletes in previous CAS hearings on doping violations.
Sun’s case focused on the failure of a sample collection team to try to collect blood and urine from swimmers. The team visited his home in China in September 2018.
After midnight, when he questioned the qualifications of officials, it became confrontational. This caused Sun’s entourage to order a security guard to smash the shell of a blood bottle with a hammer, making it unusable for testing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed to CAS because a court appointed by the swimming governing body FINA only warned the Olympic champion of his actions.
WADA requires that the second conviction for doping is prohibited for 2 to 8 years. In 2014, after testing positive for a stimulant that was banned at the time, Sun imposed a three-month ban on the Chinese authorities. The ban was not announced until after it ended.
WADA welcomed the latest CAS ruling and pointed out that its concerns about FINA’s inconsistent interpretation of anti-doping rules are once again supported.
Sun’s eight-year ban was implemented after CAS’s rare public court hearings and online live broadcasts. This was a request made by the athletes and lasted for more than 10 hours in a special court meeting in Montreux, Switzerland in November 2019. The changes to FINA’s anti-doping case rules this year mean that the eight-year ban on the second violation can be reduced. The court stated that the amendment “represents a new and flexible approach.”
The 6-foot-7-inch sun is the first Chinese swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and has long been a polarizing figure in the pool.
Competitors labelled him a liar at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. At the 2019 World Championships, two contestants refused to stand on the medal podium with him, despite the pending World Anti-Doping Agency Appealed, but he still participated in the game.
Sun Yang won a total of 11 gold medals in the five World Championships from 2011 to 2019. The freestyle distance ranges from 200 meters to 1500 meters.
Throughout Sun Yang’s career, FINA officials have been criticized for protecting the sport’s biggest star in key commercial markets.
After winning the Rio Olympic gold medal in a hostile atmosphere, Sun Yang was hugged by the pool by Cornell Markulescu, the long-term executive director of the FINA who retired in March.
FINA issued a brief statement on June 22, stating that it “recognized” the CAS ruling, which has not yet been announced in detail.