Chinese star Sun Yang has formally appealed his eight-year suspension from the sport to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, The Australian reported Monday. Sun filed his appeal on April 29, reportedly a day before the deadline.
His original decision was handed down on February 28, and under normal circumstances, appeals are due within 30 days. But as we reported in March, the high court was in limbo amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the stunning announcement of his eight-year ban at the hands of the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, the three-time Olympic champion and his lawyers vowed to appeal the decision. The 11-hour CAS hearing was notably marred by major translation issues.
“This is unfair. I firmly believe in my innocence,” Sun told Xinhua News at the time. “I will definitely appeal to let more people know the truth.”
According to the CAS website, an appeal is “allowed on a very limited number of grounds, such as lack of jurisdiction, violation of elementary procedural rules (e.g. violation of the right to a fair hearing) or incompatibility with public policy.” Sun’s appeal, then, would not be to claim his innocence based on the facts of the case. Rather, it would be to argue that there was an issue with the hearing procedure and whether it was lawfully conducted.
With the Olympics pushed back a year, some have been quick to speculate that Sun’s window to return for the next Games could be open. It’s highly unlikely that his ban could get reduced from eight years to just one, however, particularly because he was found to be a second-time offender.
Appealing to the Swiss Federal Tribunal might not be Sun’s only option. New WADA rules are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and could create a loophole for Sun to appeal to FINA for a reduced ban.