[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.