Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has been banned four years and three months in a retrial over a 2018 drug-testing case and will miss the Tokyo Olympics. The ban was backdated to Feb. 28, 2020, so he is eligible for the 2024 Paris Games.
Sun, a six-time Olympic medalist and 11-time world champion, was suspended for eight years in February 2020, but in December a Swiss court lifted the ban and ordered the case back to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for a second time, but with a different chairman of the judges.
The Swiss court ruling appeared to have swung on an objection by Sun’s lawyers to the chairman of the three-judge panel, former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini.
Federal judges ruled the guilty verdict unsafe because Frattini showed anti-Chinese bias in social media comments.
In a September 2018 clash with drug testers, a security guard from Sun’s entourage destroyed a container with a vial of the swimmer’s blood sample with a hammer. Sun said the testers didn’t have proper identification.
In announcing the February 2020 ban, a court panel unanimously determined that the personnel in charge of the doping control complied with all applicable requirements.
Sun “failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance,” according to a 2020 press release.
According to Tuesday’s release, the new CAS panel said that Sun “acted recklessly in particular when he refused to allow the blood samples to leave.”
Sun was previously suspended three months in 2014 for a banned stimulant, though the punishment wasn’t announced by Chinese officials until after he served the time. CAS determined the hammer incident to be his second violation, thus a stiffer penalty.
Only Michael Phelps owns more individual swimming world titles than 29-year-old Sun. His 11 are tied with Katie Ledecky. Sun is the only swimmer to win both an Olympic 200m freestyle and an Olympic 1500m free, an event that the women will contest for the first time in Tokyo.
Sun won the 200m free and 400m free at the 2019 Worlds in South Korea. There, freestylers Mack Horton of Australia and Duncan Scott of Great Britain refused to stand on the podium with Sun and shake his hand, respectively, at separate victory ceremonies.
After the latter, Sun turned to bronze medalist Scott, pointed a finger in his face and told him, “You’re a loser, I’m a winner.”
Horton called Sun a “drug cheat” at the Rio Olympics. Scott said he was “Team Mack,” according to the BBC.
“If [Sun] can’t respect our sport then why should I respect him?” Scott said, according to the report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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