Breaking Down Sun Yang’s Case, Part 2: Swimmer and DCO Had a History

[Editor’s note: In September of 2018, Olympic champion swimmer and world record holder Sun Yang had a run-in with drug testers that resulted in one of Sun’s bodyguards smashing a vial of his blood that was intended to be used to examine whether or not he was compliant with anti-doping rules. That much is fact. After that, the details get murky. In July, The Guardian leaked the full 59-page FINA Doping Panel report about the incident, to the chagrin of FINA, and this, at a minimum, illuminated the details of the “he said, she said” of that night. The report doesn’t answer all of the questions, but it is the best available information about what happened that night. The thought of poring through 59 pages of a doping panel report is a daunting time commitment, and making sense of it all and tying those dots together can be difficult. The result is that there has been a lot of misinformation about the incident, the panel, and its report circulating on pool decks and on social media. Between now and the November 15th-scheduled appeal hearing about the incident, we’re going to spend some time breaking down the report into more digestible pieces for our readers. This will include pulling in information not in the report where appropriate, examining rules cited, shedding light on who is involved, and helping our readers to better understand the knowns, the unknowns, and the process of this saga.]

The following is part two of a four-part series. Read part one here.

Sun Yang and the doping control officer had a history

A year before the incident in question, Sun Yang took issue with the unnamed female doping control officer presiding over his sample collection this time around. In 2017, the officer was a doping control assistant, in training to become an officer.

In his supplementary report on the testing instance in 2017, then-presiding officer Mario Artus Do Santos Simoes, an “experienced” DCO from Portugal, according to the report, wrote that Sun was “extremely rude, abusive, and uncooperative,” especially toward the doping control assistant on the case. Sun wrote that the DCA “lacked proper accreditation and also lacked authorization to perform her assigned role.”

The report does not make clear if these concerns were ever addressed. A year later, however, the former DCA –now fully accredited as an International Doping Tests & Management officer – arrived at Sun’s house, this time with her own assistant.

But it was again with the assistant on his case that Sun took issue, not the officer whose credentials he had doubted a year earlier.

The new DCA on the case (who was male, as will be important later on) showed Sun’s camp his national identification card, and the blood collection assistant provided a nurse’s certificate. Sun eventually took issue with both individuals’ forms of identification.

In the DCA’s case, the DCO told Sun that she had appointed and trained him to perform the tasks for which he would be responsible. His only job was to witness “the passing and collection of urine.”

The DCO told Sun that both her assistant and the BCA had signed statements of confidentiality, but they are considered internal IDTM documents, so she did not bring them with. Sun “insisted” that the DCA leave the doping control station, and the BCA drew his blood; at the time, Sun took no issue with that part of the process. The blood samples were placed inside “secure containers inside the cool box,” which was placed on a table in the station.

But Sun still needed to give his urine sample, which would involve the DCA.

The DCO explained that she would control every aspect of the testing process but Sun was not satisfied. The DCO showed Sun the DCA’s contact information in a digital company portal, and it matched his ID, but SUN was still not appeased as it lacked the DCA’s photo.

A call was made to Cheng Hao, head of the Chinese National Swimming Team. He agreed that not only did the DCA need proper authorization from the IDTM, but also that the BCA’s authorization had been insufficient.

It was at that point that Sun needed to urinate, and as he was unhappy with any options given to him (including to have his mother watch), the DCO stepped out to call her superior. While she was gone, Sun left to urinate, unsupervised. The DCO warned Sun that this behavior “could constitute” – the “could” being a critical word here – an anti-doping rule violation. Sun argued that because no acceptable male DCA was present, he hadn’t been properly notified of his test, and thus, it could not count against him.

Sun called his personal doctor, Dr. Ba, who agreed with Cheng that neither assistant was properly authorized. Ba additionally called a colleague, Dr. Han, who agreed with the prior assessments and told the DCO as much. While the DCO reiterated her stance that she personally was in control of the situation, Sun’s camp did not yield. They maintained that i) the DCA did not have proper IDTM authorization and thus no urine was required to be provided and none would be collected, and ii) the blood that had been collected was done by a “non-authorized and non-qualified BCA,” so could not be taken for testing.

As this is all going down, Sun alleges that he saw the DCA take photos of him inside the doping control station. Sun confronted the DCA, and the DCA deleted some pictures from his phone. The sides will later disagree as to what the pictures were of.

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2 years ago

This seems more like a personal beef and conflict with the licensed female tester who insisted that she was correct that a swimmer needs to urinate whilst watched despite that was actually not in the rule book at all.

What photoes did the DCA delete in his phone, that could not be shown to Sun? That just escalates the paranoria and feeling targeted.

2 years ago

What I’d like to know is if the DCA was carrying the same level of identification and/or accreditation as DCAs working in other countries.

2 years ago

You only carry on like this if you have something to conceal. The DCA collection staff were the correct people to test Sun and he is attempting every argument to cast a doubt. Any other swimmer in the world (who does not have China sitting over their shoulder) would been in a mountain of trouble months ago. Sun is not above the process, the rules of the process or the rules of swimming.

2 years ago

When you have nothing to hide, it doesn’t matter when, how and where you are tested.

Reply to  yardfan
2 years ago

It matters who the tester is as he is basically trusting her not to screw him over. And she broke a few rules plus gaslighted him that she is allowed to have another dude watch him strip, pull his junk out and urinate in the flesh..despite that is not even conventional nor legal in sun’s specific case. Regardless testers needs to be sufficiently trusted by swimmers and he deserves a fair trial at the minimum like everyone else.

Reply to  Maxwell
2 years ago

Actually that’s wrong. Everyone who is in the testing pool has to be observed actually urinating. Why would he get a pass? Not sure where you are getting that information

Corn Pop
2 years ago

This is why we need the vans Colin Powell’ identified from space . They did not look very big & were fully outfitted.for full chemical warfare . Surely similar could be refitted with accredited DCOs & bathroom , refrigeration , all the nec documents & communications. .

They could just drive to the athletes stated place & frogmarch them out .to the van . For recalcitrant ones , I suggest an extra security officer qualified with Tasers & an emergency glock .& a Ak47 . The latter would only be used if they encountered an Extinction Rebellion or a anti Govt protest on the way . They are everywhere now & we must be prepared . The vans must… Read more »

2 years ago

I have no idea how valid SunYang’s concerns are with regard to the DCA, but this whole thing has a very “Jerry Springer” feel to it.

2 years ago

I have worked with people who get in trouble with the law my entire adult life. Here is the street scenario. You decide.

Moon (well known drug dealer) is out and about in his neighborhood and all of a sudden he gets pulled over by the plain clothes detective cop whom he went off on last month. He knows he has to be nice to said cop so he instead goes after cop’s partner all in an effort not to get his car searched. Let’s face it, there are some drugs in the car. He can only have so much of a fit on partner and then he has to refocus anger back on cop. He questions their badges. He… Read more »

Corn Pop
Reply to  Lkg4dmcrc
2 years ago

You missed s vital part of the story . . Moon not only did drugs but ran a very popular dating service . .The recently divorced officers & sad never likely to be marrieds joined up & graduated to being matched with a vetted partner .They all went to Korea & got married in a field of flowers with 100s of other couples .

Richard Johansson
2 years ago

Still, what is the problem? Banned for life, end of story!

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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