Chinese swimmer Sun Yang banned for eight years for doping offence

Triple Olympic swimming gold medallist Sun Yang has the right to appeal the ruling at the Swiss federal court.

Sun Yang was accused of refusing to provide blood and urine samples when drug testers visited his home in China in September 2018.

Sun Yang was accused of refusing to provide blood and urine samples when drug testers visited his home in China in September 2018.   -  Reuters

China’s triple Olympic swimming gold medallist Sun Yang has been found guilty of refusing to give a doping sample and banned for eight years in an eagerly-awaited judgement from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Friday.

The Swiss-based CAS upheld the appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the international swimming federation (FINA) and Sun, one of China’s most recognisable athletes who had already served a doping ban in 2014.

Sun, who was accused of refusing to provide blood and urine samples when drug testers visited his home in China in September 2018, has the right to appeal the ruling at the Swiss federal court.

A vial of Sun’s own blood sample was smashed with a hammer during the testing session, but the swimmer was acquitted by FINA of anti-doping violations, agreeing that testers had failed to produce adequate identification.

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

CAS said its panel had “unanimously determined” that Sun had tampered with his doping control. Taking into consideration his previous doping ban, CAS said it had imposed the stiffest eight-year sanction.

“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),” CAS said.

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“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.”

Chronological account of Sun's controversial career

- 2009: Breakthrough -

Sun wins his first major medal at the age of 17, taking 1500m freestyle bronze at the world championships in Rome.

- 2010: Asian crowns -

The rising star wins gold in the 1500m and 4x200m freestyle relay at the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

- 2011: Stunning world record -

Sun shatters Grant Hackett’s 10-year-old 1500m world record and also wins the 800m in front of his home crowd at the world championships in Shanghai.

- 2012: Double Olympic gold -

Sun is edged into silver in the 200m freestyle at the London Games, but strikes gold in the 400m and 1500m.

- 2014: Secret drugs ban -

Sun wins triple gold at the Asian Games in Incheon, but it later emerges that he served a three-month suspension for taking the banned stimulant trimetazidine.

- 2016: Olympic rancour -

Australian rival Mack Horton brands Sun “a drug cheat” at the Rio Olympics and pips the Chinese to gold in the 400m freestyle, leaving him in tears. Sun recovers to win the 200m title.

- 2019: Smashed blood vial -

Sun’s career is thrown into doubt after The Sunday Times in Britain alleges that a vial of his blood was smashed with a hammer during a dispute with anti-doping testers who visited his home.

- 2019: Podium protests -

Horton refuses to pose for pictures with Sun on the medal podium, a protest repeated by Britain’s bronze medallist Duncan Scott. Sun tells Scott: “I win, you loser.”

- 2020: Eight-year ban -

Sun is banned for eight years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for refusing to give blood and urine samples to testers.

 

- Significant result -

WADA director general Olivier Niggli welcomed the CAS decision as a “significant result“.

“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 (World Anti-Doping) Code.

“Today’s CAS ruling confirms those concerns and is a significant result.”

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After that initial clearance 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, especially from Australia.

CAS ruled that his results from Gwangju would stand “in the absence of any evidence that the athlete may have engaged in doping activity since 4 September 2018”.