In Brief

Why everyone’s talking about Sun Yang

Chinese swimmer will appeal eight-year ban but the Olympic champion’s career looks over

Three-time Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang, China’s most popular sports star, has been handed an eight-year ban for doping violations. 

During an out-of-competition test at his home in September 2018 the 28-year-old was accused of not cooperating with officials and it was also reported that a hammer was used to smash the vials that contained his blood samples. 

Although he was initially cleared of any wrongdoing by Fina, swimming’s governing body, the decision has today been overturned after the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). 

The BBC says that because this is Sun’s second offence the maximum eight-year ban has been issued. In 2014 he served a three-month suspension after testing positive for prohibited stimulant trimetazidine.

Sun’s ban also means he will miss this summer’s Olympic games in Tokyo and The Daily Telegraph says the decision by Cas “effectively ends his career”. 

The most decorated swimmer in Chinese history, Sun won the 200m freestyle gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and the 400m and 1,500m freestyle golds at London 2012. 

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At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Sun Yang won the gold medal in the 200m freestyle

What happened: Cas verdict

Wada appealed to Cas after Fina had ruled the doping sample collection at Sun’s home in 2018 was invalid, China Daily reports. 

In its verdict Cas said: “The athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance with the ISTI [international standard for testing and investigations]. 

“As the Cas panel noted, it is one thing, having provided a blood sample, to question the accreditation of the testing personnel while keeping the intact samples in the possession of the testing authorities; it is quite another thing, after lengthy exchanges and warnings as to the consequences, to act in such a way that results in destroying the sample containers, thereby eliminating any chance of testing the sample at a later stage.”

Wada also “welcomed” the decision and director general Olivier Niggli said: “Wada decided to appeal the original Fina ruling having carefully reviewed it and having concluded that there were a number of points that seemed to be incorrect under the Code. 

“Today’s Cas ruling confirms those concerns and is a significant result. We will now need to take time to review the decision in full, and we will continue to review diligently all anti-doping decisions taken by Code Signatories to ensure they are in line with the Code and, when warranted, to exercise our independent right of appeal.”

What happens next: Sun will appeal 

China Daily reports that Sun’s team questioned the credentials of the testers in 2018 and in an interview with news agency Xinhua he says he will “definitely” appeal the Cas verdict and eight-year ban. 

Shocked by the Cas decision, he said: “This is unfair. I firmly believe in my innocence. I have entrusted a lawyer to appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in accordance with the law.

“I will let more people know the truth. Believe that facts must overcome lies! 

“I will fight to the end to defend my legitimate rights and interests.”

Cas confirmed that Sun has 30 days to challenge the decision before the Swiss Federal Tribunal. 

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Start your trial today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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