Controversial World Record holding swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang is not entered in this week’s National Championship meet in Qingdao, China. The news comes after Asian media reported last week that he would be racing.
CCTV5 sports reporter Sun Xiaoxue published start lists for the meet, which did not include Sun Yang. Sun Yang is currently awaiting a retrial in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport for an incident with a doping collection agent in September 2018.
Sun was originally banned for 8 years by a CAS panel, but a Swiss Tribunal overturned that ruling on the basis of racists Tweets sent out by the president of the hearing panel.
Here’s a summarized timeline of events in the case:
- September 2018: Sun challenges authorization of doping control agents during test, ending with a vial of his blood being smashed
- January 2019: an independent anti-doping panel rules in Sun’s favor, leading FINA (the international governing body for swimming) to not issue a sanction against Sun
- March 2019: WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) appeals that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport
- November 2019: CAS hears the case in a fully-public hearing marred by translation issues. The full 11-hour hearing is live-streamed online.
- February 2020: The three-person CAS panel rules against Sun, banning him for eight years.
- July 2020: Sun files two appeals with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, hoping to either have his ban overturned or revised.
- December 2020: The Swiss Federal Tribunal overturns the ban, sending the case back to CAS for a second hearing. The decision centers around the first panel’s president, who tweeted racist comments about China on social media.
Sun has a previous doping suspension from May 2014, where the Chinese Swimming Association suspended him for 3 months for a positive test for trimetazidine. That drug was banned four months before Sun tested positive, and he says it was prescribed to him to treat heart palpitations.
The 29-year old Sun is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, along with 2 silver and 1 bronze medal.
Sun is the current World Record holder in the 1500 free with his gold medal swim from the 2012 Olympic Games, though he’s dropped that event from his schedule at the international level in recent years. At the 2019 World Championships, Sun won gold in the 200 and 400 free, where he faced podium protests from fellow medalists Duncan Scott and Mack Horton against his participation while the CAS proceedings were ongoing.
Though he’s not participating this week, that doesn’t mean Sun won’t be selected for the Olympics. China’s other entry in the 200 and 400 free at Worlds Jin Xinjie finished 10th and 7th in those races respectively. China didn’t enter another swimmer in the 800 free, an event where Sun finished 6th. That means China will likely be able to hold a spot open for him, pending the outcome of his hearing.