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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Clean and Respectful Sport

Can they just please ban this guy. He’s so bad for the sport, and other swimmers shouldn’t have to protest at the meet they trained all year for just to draw attention to that.

Stan Crump

As much as you seem to dislike Sun, he still has a right to due process. However the fact that he is competing now without any blood/urine testing is surprising to me.

Sun is still competing, but not without testing – according to FINA records, Sun has been tested at least three times this year: in February, in April and in July. That only covers FINA testing; Sun could also have been tested by WADA and/or CHINADA in that time.

Stan Crump

Thanks. Didn’t understand that.


All swimmers get tested multiple times a year. With the exception of that test, he passed all his previous tests that year and the multiple ones in the year before and afterwards that incident without issue.

Siphiwe Baleka

Can we just ban Nike from sports, too. I mean, they are so bad for athletes. “I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike”


So were the DCA and BCA properly authorized or not? If so, did they provide enough proof that they were? It seems like this whole situation was more complicated than everyone’s outraged knee-jerk reactions would suggest.

That’s really the $64,000 question. At this point, the testing company has not provided documentation for whether they were properly authorized or not. I don’t think I’m being cynical by saying “well if they were properly authorized, they would have proven that.” This was the crux of why the panel ruled in Sun’s favor.

I can’t see the CAS ruling going any other way unless the testing company shows up with new evidence of their proper credentialing and authorization, and that they showed it. Especially now that Sun has security footage, evidence that they were snapping covert pictures of him, and the information they’ve publicized about the DCA not being properly credentialed.

Sir Swimsalot

I will admit upfront I’m not fond of Sun Yang and have some bias due to China’s history regarding doping and the way China has handled doping athletes, so take these thoughts with a grain of salt. 1) Does the head of the Chinese national team possess any authority over or have any relevance to the doping agency? I find it interesting that Sun Yang decided to call him for his take on whether the DCA’s identification was sufficient. If the national team head does have authority, that is worrisome for me, because he could possibly protect athletes. 2) I’m not familiar with how the doping agency works in China, but Sun’s complaint that he wasn’t properly notified seems off.… Read more »

Part of the answer to 3, if we believe his side’s story, is that the DCA was taking secret photos and videos of him.


Normally swimmers are allowed to urinate alone without a person directly watching them unless there is a paper authorisation insisting they need to be directly watched. Sun has years of history of drug testing so already familiar with the process. He was surprised that suddenly an abnormality of the papers plus an unlicensed person needs to watch him without papers. And unlawfully authorised by a female tester he had personal friction with. BUT the female tester was flat out wrong. She was sufficiently trained and would know that she needed papers which she didn’t. She said Sun “could” violate a doping rule if he didn’t submit to her demands that were basically having another dude look at his d*ck without… Read more »


Actually if you read the WADA reference guide or the ASADA (Australia) website witnessing the urine collection is the normal practice. Nowhere is it mentioned that it is only required under certain circumstances and even minors aren’t exempt.
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I think many people has a view that if SUN is clean and he has nothing to hide, he should have taken the tests anyway. My comment is: 1. He questioned the credential of the DCO (Ex DCA) before, did he return a positive result? NO. So, questioning credential only proves that he was very cautious but did not prove that he was doping. 2. Honestly would any elite swimmer let a guy who secretly take photos and behaving unprofessionally take a test? 3. You guys have no idea of Chinese culture, he might be a national hero but doesn’t mean no one would harm him (like tainting his sample). There are many people who might have conflict of interest… Read more »

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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