Last Saturday marked a month since the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport handed Sun Yang an eight-year ban, meaning his window to file an appeal to a higher court theoretically has passed – though his lawyers vowed to appeal, we have yet to receive confirmation they have formally done so.
The higher court, the Swiss Federal Tribunal, is unsurprisingly being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a press release last week, the court has suspended some operations while keeping others on track.
The court issued the following statement (translated from German):
“The coronavirus pandemic has further implications for the judicial system in Switzerland. The Federal Council ordered an extension of the standstill in civil and administrative proceedings over Easter.”
“Excluded from the suspension of time limits are all proceedings to which the suspension of time limits over Easter days does not apply under the applicable federal or cantonal law. These are in particular criminal proceedings, arbitration proceedings and summary civil proceedings, administrative proceedings in the first instance, administrative appeal proceedings or proceedings with suspensive effect or other precautionary measures in accordance with the Administrative Justice Administration Act of the Canton of Glarus. In these proceedings, the deadlines continue to run regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.
Expected end on 20 April 2020.
Insofar as the extended standstill applies, it applies not only to periods calculated in days, weeks or months, but also to periods set by the authorities with a specific end date between 21 March and 19 April 2020. In this case, the period ends on the first working day after the end of the standstill, i.e., as things stand at present on 20 April 2020. In all other respects, the effects of the standstill are governed by the applicable procedural law.
No effects on hearing dates.
In principle, the Federal Council ordinance has no effect on the dates of hearings and the service of judgements, decisions and orders.
It’s not clear exactly where Sun’s case falls, but it seems likely that his deadline to appeal did not change.
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, however, is not the only option. New WADA rules are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and could create add a loophole for Sun to appeal to FINA for a reduced ban.