The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in Sun Yang‘s ongoing anti-doping case has been postponed at least another month, per a CAS release today.
The appeal was brought by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after an anti-doping panel cleared Sun of anti-doping rule violations back in January. The CAS release says that “due to unexpected personal circumstance, one of the parties was obliged to request a postponement of the hearing.” The release does not name which party requested the postponement, but does say the other parties assented to the request for postponement. The named parties in the release are WADA, the Chinese freestyler Sun, and FINA, the world’s governing body for swimming.
The hearing was originally scheduled for September of 2019. But the release says that the postponement will likely push that back at least another month. “A new hearing date will be fixed as soon as possible and but is unlikely to be before the end of October 2019,” the release reads.
The case has been one of the bigger stories in swimming this year. Sun, the 27-year-old Chinese distance star and three-time Olympic champ, was accused of violating anti-doping rules in a testy interaction with doping control workers late on the evening of September 4, 2018.
Doping control officials arrived to perform an out-of-competition test on samples of Sun’s blood and urine. According to the Doping Panel’s decision document, Sun disputed the credentials of one of the doping control workers – the same worker who had been involved in an earlier anti-doping test in 2017. In that first 2017 test, Sun disputed the worker’s accreditation and authorization to be involved in the doping control test, and complained about the worker via the doping control form.
During the September 2018 test, Sun also said he believed that doping control worker was covertly taking photos and videos of Sun during the test. Sun ultimately disputed the worker’s credentials and refused to give urine samples. His blood sample had already been taken, and the ensuing dispute about what to do with the sample ended with the blood sample being destroyed. FINA said Sun’s bodyguard smashed the samples with a hammer while the doping control officer was on the phone, while Sun said the doping control workers told him he could remove the sample from its secure container and dispose of it.
FINA sought to sanction Sun for his actions, but an independent doping panel found that Sun had not committed an anti-doping rules violation. The panel agreed with Sun’s belief that the doping control worker was not properly accredited, and the panel also agreed with Sun’s case that the worker was surreptitiously taking photos or videos of him during the test, calling that behavior “highly improper and extremely unprofessional.”
WADA appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and Sun requested a fully public hearing, citing transparency and a will to clear his name. Today’s CAS release says the public hearing will be just the second in CAS history. The first was a 1999 hearing in which swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin challenged a ban for tampering with a urine sample. CAS upheld the standing ban in that case.