Lost in translation: Sun Yang’s doping case hits interpretation snag

Sung Yang, a triple Olympic gold medal-winner, is accused of smashing a blood vial with a hammer following a visit by drug testers in September last year.

Sun’s CAS hearing, the first in 20 years that was open to the public, was beset by technical difficulties and interpreting errors between Chinese and English which frustrated lawyers and held up proceedings.   -  Reuters

Chinese Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang’s anti-doping case, in which he is facing an eight-year ban for missing a drug test, won’t be settled before mid-January because of translation problems, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said.

The Swiss-based court said “some concerns were raised” about the translation of Sun’s testimony from Chinese into English at the one-day hearing on November 15.

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The triple Olympic gold medal-winner, who served a doping suspension in 2014, is accused of smashing a blood vial with a hammer following a visit by testers in September last year.

“Although the organisation and the schedule of the public hearing was to the satisfaction of the arbitrators and parties’ counsels, some concerns were raised with respect to the quality of the interpretation of Mr. Yang’s testimony,” a CAS statement said.

“The parties are currently preparing an agreed-upon written transcript of the proceedings, including a full translation of Mr. Yang’s testimony, which the panel will work from when deliberating and preparing the arbitral award,” CAS said, adding that the case would not be decided before mid-January.

Sun’s CAS hearing, the first in 20 years that was open to the public, was beset by technical difficulties and interpreting errors between Chinese and English which frustrated lawyers and held up proceedings.

CAS said the private translation service was provided by Sun’s camp and agreed by both parties, adding that it couldn’t hire its own interpreters for reasons of “independence and neutrality“.

Swimming body FINA confirmed in January that Sun had used a hammer to smash a vial containing his own blood sample during the testing session, but acquitted him of anti-doping violations, agreeing that testers had failed to produce adequate identification.

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But the ruling outraged the World Anti-Doping Agency which took the matter to CAS, demanding a ban of between two and eight years for missing the out-of-competition test.

After being cleared by FINA, Sun was able to compete in the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July, where he won two golds but became a focus of protests from rivals.