Chinese superstar and reigning 200m free Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang will officially not be competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He has been handed a new ban that will last for 4 years and 3 months and run through May of 2024 – prior to the Paris 2024 Games.
Sun Yang‘s new ban is backdated to February 2020, which means he could compete in Paris 2024 at the age of 32. He also can potentially appeal this latest decision to the Swiss Tribunal again. However, as it was conducted behind closed doors it would be difficult to assess the grounds upon which such an appeal would be made.
The new Panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that Sun Yang committed the following ADRVs (anti-doping rule violation) when an unsuccessful attempt was made to collect blood and urine samples from him at his residence on 4-5 September 2018:
• Article 2.3 of the 2021 FINA Doping Code (2021 FINA DC) (“Evading, Refusing or Failing to Submit to Sample Collection by an Athlete”).
• Article 2.5 of the 2021 FINA DC (“Tampering or Alleged Tampering with any Part of Doping Control by an Athlete or Other Person”).
In February 2020, the 29-year-old freestyle ace had been handed an eight-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for having broken anti-doping protocol. The ruling was made following an out-of-competition doping control test at which Sun destroyed samples, arguing that those who were testing him were improperly certified.
However, Sun appealed to the Swiss Tribunal, which ultimately overturned this previous suspension handed down by a different panel of arbitrators. The Swiss Federal Court confirmed at the time that racist comments made towards China by the chairman of the three-member panel responsible for the original ban were the source of the overturning.
FINA has also issued a statement upon hearing the CAS decision as follows:
|FINA acknowledges the decision rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case WADA v. Sun Yang and FINA. FINA confirms that Mr Sun Yang (CHN) has been sanctioned for 4 years and 3 months, effective as from February 28, 2020. FINA will enforce the CAS Award according to its terms, and in accordance with its obligations as a Signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code.
FINA remains committed to the protection of all clean aquatics athletes worldwide and will carefully consider the 90-page award.
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.