SwimSwam Pulse: 58% Think Sun Yang Will Be Banned Before 2021 Olympics

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers whether they thought Sun Yang would be allowed to swim at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021:


Question: Will Sun Yang swim at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021?

  • No, he’ll be banned by CAS – 58.1%
  • Yes, his case won’t be settled by Tokyo – 29.7%
  • Yes, he’ll be cleared by CAS – 12.1%

More than half of voters said they expect Chinese distance swimmer Sun Yang to be banned in time to keep him out of the Tokyo Olympics this year.

58.1% said Sun would be banned (for a second time) by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, or CAS. Sun was involved in an altercation at an out-of-competition doping test in the fall of 2018. In that incident, Sun challenged the credentials of doping control agents, and the night ended as one of Sun’s guards smashed a vial of Sun’s blood, claiming it had been drawn without authorization.

That’s where the story takes a turn into an alphabet soup of winding legal challenges.

FINA originally tried to ban Sun, but an independent doping panel cleared him. WADA appealed that ban to CAS. A CAS panel handed Sun an 8-year ban, though that fully public hearing was marred by frequent translation issues between Sun’s Chinese-speaking witnesses and the English-speaking panel. Sun appealed the decision to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which upheld one of his challenges, sending the case back to a different CAS panel after the chair of the original panel published racist tweets critical of China on social media.

  • FINA= the world’s governing body for swimming
  • WADA = World Anti-Doping Agency, a world-level organization governing anti-doping rules and testing
  • CAS = Court of Arbitration for Sport, a body that hears and resolves sport-related disputes

29.7% thought Sun would be allowed to compete in Tokyo this year, but only because the CAS panel wouldn’t be able to re-hear his case and come to a decision by the summer. Originally, Sun’s case had a lengthy timeline. The scuffle at the doping test took place in the fall of 2018. The altercation wasn’t publicly revealed until January of 2019. WADA announced in March that it was appealing the FINA panel, and it took eight more months before CAS could hear the dispute, in November of 2019.

With the Olympics bearing down, though, the timeline might be sped up this time around to avoid the potential re-distributing of medals if Sun is banned after the Olympics.

Just 12.1% of voters thought Sun would be cleared outright by the Olympics slated for this coming July.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters how USA Swimming should handle an Olympic Trials meet amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:

What should USA Swimming adjust for the 2021 Olympic Trials in response to the pandemic?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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Big dog swims
4 months ago

Hopefully the case isn’t held up and his ban is again placed on him. Keep swimming clean

Reply to  Big dog swims
4 months ago

I totally agree. Sun gang needs to be banned. But I hate the double standard of WADA and the west. The west and certain European countries like the UK are full of TUE abusers. Wada is biased.

Olympunks & Gamester Bullies
4 months ago

The Chinese flag should be put on the shelf next to the Russian flag for the next few Olympics…and even then they probably won’t “get it”.

Reply to  Olympunks & Gamester Bullies
3 months ago

Swimming wouldn’t be where it’s at without China and Russia, for you to say something like that is beyond me. I can tell your not a real swimmer, get lost.

Reply to  SwimGuy
1 month ago

*you’re 🙂

4 months ago

It’s getting close to too late to implement this, but an A/B cut format for trials would be smart this year. Set it up like the NCAA’s

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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