The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has released its full decision document from the high-profile Sun Yang case, in which the Chinese Olympic champ was ruled ineligible for eight years over a September 2018 doping test.
The 2018 incident revolved around Sun’s challenge of the credentials of doping control officials. Sun ultimately refused to provide a urine sample, and instructed his security guard to destroy a vial of blood he’d already given. An independent anti-doping panel originally cleared Sun of wrongdoing through FINA’s investigative process, but an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency led to the 8-year ban.
A few notable pieces of the full decision:
CAS pointed out significant differences in the accounts of Sun and his doctor, Ba Zhen, about the rationale for Sun’s behavior on the night in question. The CAS document doesn’t entirely throw out Dr. Ba’s testimony, but considers it “not a complete or adequate account of the events that occurred.”
The CAS panel found that Sun’s actions, in principle, obstructed the established collection process. CAS held that there are cases where an athlete can object to the typical doping control procedure, but that those are only in “the most exceptional circumstance.”
Sun’s case made a distinction between two types of authorizing documents. Sun contended that doping control officials needed a generic letter of authority (from a body like FINA or WADA, authorizing a testing company like IDTM to conduct a test) along with a specific letter authorizing the specific doping control agents by name. CAS accepted the distinction, but held that the generic letter of authority, combined with the tester’s ID, showing her affiliation with IDTM, was sufficient for both parts.
CAS also noted that Sun did not testify that a specific authorization letter had been shown to him in any other doping control test he had undergone without protest in years past.
The decision documents claims that during the hearing, Sun did not express regret as to his actions, but that “he dug his heels in and, eventually, sought to blame others for the manifest failings that occurred.”
Sun’s specific violation in this case would carry a four-year period of ineligibility, but since it is Sun’s second anti-doping violation, the sentence is doubled. The new WADA Code, which doesn’t take effect until January 2021, would actually allow the sentence to be reduced back to four years, but that Code isn’t yet in effect. Once it does take effect, though, Sun could apply to have his sentence reduced.