Sun Yang Eyes Return To Competition As Doping Ban Comes To An End

Disgraced three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang may be ineligible to compete at the Paris Olympics, but that hasn’t dimmed his desire to return to competition.

Sun’s four-year doping ban—which was reduced from an initial suspension of eight years in 2021—has come to an end, as the former freestyle powerhouse was suspended from February 2020 until this May.

The 32-year-old’s ban didn’t end in time for him to compete at the Chinese Olympic Trials, meaning he won’t be in Paris, but he’s still itching to return to competition and test himself between the lane lines.

“I hope to be able to select a competition soon enough and stand on the starting block, getting back to the pool I was familiar with, getting back to the feeling that I was familiar with,” Sun told Chinese news website The Paper in a video interview posted on Tuesday.

“I’m proud enough of all the results and honours I’ve achieved throughout my career. At the moment I just hope I can bravely stand on the starting block.”

Sun’s original suspension in 2020 came after he and members of his team smashed vials of blood when they questioned the credentials of a doping control officer.

“Four years ago I’ve made this decision already – that I wanted to carry on,” Sun said.

“I said I would never give up …. When the ban started I felt extremely dark. Whatever I wanted to do at the time, as long as it’s reasonable, they (my parents) would support me.

“They were afraid I would go mental because at the time I was swimming every day alone in the pool. Others would wonder why I didn’t do something else after so long (and) that I might have gone crazy.”

Sun may be cleared to compete, but Chinese anti-doping rules dictate that any athlete handed a suspension for longer than one year is ineligible for national teams. That makes it unlikely he’ll represent China internationally again, barring an exception.

This is also not Sun’s first suspension, having served three months in 2014 after testing positive for trimetazidine.

Sun reigned as the best mid-distance/distance freestyler in the world throughout the 2010s, winning three Olympic gold medals and 11 World Championship titles in eight years.

He won double gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, claiming the men’s 400 and 1500 free, and in 2016, he won gold in the 200 free. He also won silver individually in London (200 free) and Rio (400 free), and added a bronze medal anchoring the Chinese men’s 800 free relay in 2012.

At the World Championships, Sun broke through by winning the 800 and 1500 free in 2011, downing Grant Hackett‘s decade-old world record in the 1500 in a time of 14:34.14, and went on to defend both titles in 2013 while adding the 400 free title. Sun would go on to win four straight 400 free titles, from 2013 through 2019, and he won three straight in the 800 (2011-15) and two straight in the 200 free (2017-19).

Sun still owns the world record in the 1500 free, having established a mark of 14:31.02 at the London Olympics 12 years ago.

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Michael
17 days ago

Personally I think it’s really unfair how people jump to conclusions about Sun. It was Never a clear cut case yet people ars willing to claim he was “disgraced” including this article author.

However if anything, I think he should never be suspended in the first place given certain facts..
I actually read what actually happened on 2019.

He was tested around 8 times before the incident. That night was his 9th drug test in 2 weeks. He had just finished a major competition and his tests from that all came back negative.

Also if he wanted to, he could easily skip a single test time frame within 12 month. Normally they can skip 2 tests a year before… Read more »

Dr Ju
17 days ago

Sun Yang is a big cheat just like the leader of the Chinese swimming association Zhou Jihong

CC33
Reply to  Dr Ju
17 days ago

Yes Zhou is a huge stain on diving and aquatics

Michael
Reply to  Dr Ju
17 days ago

How?You should read what actually happened on 2019.

He was tested 8 times before the incident. It was his 9th drug test in 2 weeks. He just finished a major competition and his tests all came back negative.

Also if he wanted to, he could easily skip a test within 12 month. Normally they can skip 2 tests a year before it gets a penalty.

When you consider all that, there is a very good reason why none of his 2019 medals were taken away. Because there was no evidence that he was doping and it seemed unlikey given the results of his tests before and after the incident.

reason
17 days ago

Guy was doped up throughout his career and everyone knows it. China and Russia should have a perma ban from all international competition.

Michael
Reply to  reason
17 days ago

If he was doped up then why has he not lost a single medal? Do you not trust the drug tests during the world championships and Olympics that obviously showed he didn’t break the rules?

tea rex
17 days ago

The Chinese federation could absolutely make an exception for Sun if they wanted. I think he is more liability than asset for the country, especially as they are trying to memory-hole their other positive drug tests. His behavior at the 2019 World Champs (among others) did him no favors.

Atohitotsu
18 days ago

“Chinese anti-doping rules dictate that any athlete handed a suspension for longer than one year is ineligible for national teams.” – Interesting that China has stricter anti-doping rules than most other countries. Shayna Jack wouldn’t be eligible if Australia held themselves to the same standards.

H20
18 days ago

I mean wether u like him or not, u gotta admire the dedication it takes to get back into training after years of not being able to compete just for a shoot.

HWS
18 days ago

If he were really the GOAT he would’ve gone sub 3:40

Sun Yangs Hammer
18 days ago

Mid-distance mids are scared of the GOAT

Garbage Yardage
Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
18 days ago

Like a phoenix from the ashes, Sun Yangs Hammer returns to the Sun Yang comment section.

Sun Yang's Mom
Reply to  Garbage Yardage
18 days ago

Yup

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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