Chinese swimmer Sun Yang’s four-year ban could restart if he is found to have violated the terms of his penalty. The 30-year-old was reportedly seen training in government-funded facilities on social media.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has started investigating these claims. If Sun is found guilty of this violation, his four-year suspension could restart. This would prevent him from competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
While Sun is allowed to train, he cannot do so with a professional program or with other Chinese-sponsored athletes, nor can he train at a sports facility that is funded by the Chinese government. According to The Sunday Times (UK), Sun was spotted at Anji Children’s Sports School in Zhejiang Province near his home, on December 18. Chinese news sources and media reports state the school is fully government-funded.
In February 2020, Sun was issued an eight-year suspension for tampering with doping control procedures: the suspension was issued by a panel of three judges. The ruling was made following an out-of-competition doping control test at which Sun destroyed vials of samples, arguing that those testing him were improperly certified.
He appealed this decision later to a Swiss Federal Tribunal in April 2020, arguing his innocence in the matter. Sun’s appeal was rendered successful in December 2020 and his suspension was overturned. The Swiss Federal Court confirmed that racist comments made by the original panel’s chairman influenced the decision.
Sun was given a retrial in June 2021, and his sentence was reduced from eight years to four years and three months. Because the ban was backdated to February 2020, Sun could have made a potential comeback at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
WADA spokesman James Fitzgerald issued a statement that said “We are looking into the matter and, as part of that, we will follow up with the relevant entities, including the international swimming federation (FINA), to gather more information and to be in a position to determine whether the swimmer has breached the terms of his suspension, as per the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of 22 June 2021.”
FINA added that it would comply with an investigation. A spokesman said “We are contacting the Chinese authorities to seek explanation and will reiterate that it is imperative that any banned athlete complies with the WADA Code and the conditions of their ineligibility.”