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Sun Yang banned 8 years in swimming doping case

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Sun Yang, China’s controversial swimming superstar, was banned eight years in a doping case stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018.

Sun, who owns 14 combined Olympic and world titles between the 200m and 1500m freestyles, received the ban from a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling on Friday. He is appealing to a Swiss federal court, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, seeking a suspension, had appealed the international swimming federation’s original punishment of a warning but no ban over the hammer incident.

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 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 press release.

“It is one thing, having provided a blood sample, to question the accreditation of the testing personnel while keeping the intact samples in the possession of the testing authorities,” according to the release. “It is quite another thing, after lengthy exchanges and warnings as to the consequences, to act in such a way that results in destroying the sample containers, thereby eliminating any chance of testing the sample at a later stage.”

Sun pushes back on ruling

Sun called the ruling “unfair,” according to Xinhua.

“I firmly believe in my innocence,” Sun said, according to the report. “I will definitely appeal to let more people know the truth.”

WADA, which sought a ban of two to eight years, said it was satisfied that “justice has been rendered.”

“WADA decided to appeal the original FINA ruling having carefully reviewed it and having concluded that there were a number of points that seemed to be incorrect under the Code,” WADA director Olivier Niggli said in a statement. “Today’s CAS ruling confirms those concerns and is a significant result.”

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. The court determined the hammer incident to be his second violation, thus a stiffer penalty.

None of Sun’s Olympic or world championships medals are being stripped. The 28-year-old remains China’s most decorated swimmer with six medals between the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Sun in rare company for success

Only Michael Phelps owns more individual swimming world titles. Sun’s 11 are tied with Katie Ledecky. Sun is the only swimmer to win both an Olympic 200m free and an Olympic 1500m free, an event that the women will contest for the first time in Tokyo.

Sun won the 200m and 400m free at last summer’s 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.

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Chad le Clos seeks Sun Yang’s Olympic gold medal for doping case

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NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Chad le Clos believes he has a claim on Sun Yang’s gold medal from the Rio Olympics, with a verdict imminent on the Chinese swimmer’s latest doping case.

“He should be banned. It’s as simple as that,” Le Clos said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. “Anyone who tests positive should be banned. I should get my gold medal back from Rio.

“Not for the moment. I lost that. I don’t really care about that,” Le Clos added on Wednesday. “It’s just for my record. If I break my leg and I can’t swim again I want my record to say, ‘Two individual golds, two individual silvers.’ Because that’s what it should be.”

Le Clos’ Olympic record currently contains one gold medal and three silvers — including a second-place finish to Sun in the Rio Olympic 200m free

Odds are, though, that Sun won’t lose any Olympic titles when the Court of Arbitration for Sport issues its ruling over his alleged refusal to provide blood and urine in September 2018 in a visit by sample collectors to his home in China. During the late-night confrontation, a security guard used a hammer to smash a container holding Sun’s blood as the swimmer lit the scene with his mobile phone.

The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed after swimming federation FINA merely warned Sun and cited doubts about credentials shown by three sample collection officials.

A three-time Olympic champion, Sun could be banished from the sport for up to eight years but any ban likely won’t be backdated before September 2018 — meaning all of his Olympic medals seem safe.

But there’s also the fact that international swimming authorities worked to protect Sun from being banned, according to a Swiss supreme court document.

FINA has faced criticisms in the past for favoring Sun during his career. It did not announce Sun’s three-month ban for doping imposed by Chinese authorities until after it ended in 2014.

“I just hope the system and whatever we have is really accurate,” said Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú, who won three golds in Rio. “I just hope the decisions they are making is fair and is for the sport and not for other reasons.”

The medals that Sun risks losing most are the two golds that he won at last year’s world championships in the 200m and 400m frees. At the event in Gwangju, South Korea, fellow medalists Mack Horton of Australia and Duncan Scott of Britain refused to stand with him on the podium.

Sun has denied any wrongdoing. Any ban imposed in the coming days would likely prevent him from competing at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“I have nothing against anybody. It’s not personal,” Le Clos said. “It’s just how the world should be. If you cheat or if you do something wrong, like if you false start, you get disqualified. It’s simple as that.”

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FINA supported Sun Yang against potential ban in doping case

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GENEVA (AP) — International swimming authorities worked to protect three-time Olympic champion a Sun Yang ban from the sport in a doping case, according to a Swiss supreme court document.

A verdict in the case against the Chinese swimmer is expected within days from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But a federal court document shows that swimming governing body FINA supported arguments by Sun’s lawyers to have an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency thrown out early last year in a pre-trial dispute over an alleged conflict of interest for the agency’s lead prosecutor, American lawyer Richard Young.

The swimmer’s lawyers appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which dismissed their procedural objections weeks before a rare public hearing held by CAS last November.

“In the course of the proceedings, the swimmer and FINA raised a plea of inadmissibility because of the allegedly late filing of the (WADA) appeal brief,” said the Swiss federal ruling, dated Oct. 28.

Had Young, who previously prosecuted doping cases involving Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones and is based in Colorado, been considered ineligible for the case because of his past work for FINA, the WADA appeal could have technically missed its deadline and allowed CAS to decline jurisdiction.

Instead, Young stayed on the WADA team for the public hearing.

Sun is facing a ban of up to eight years for his alleged refusal to provide blood and urine in September 2018 in a visit by sample collectors to his home in China. WADA appealed after a FINA tribunal merely warned Sun and cited doubts about credentials shown by three sample collection officials.

FINA has faced criticisms in the past, including from some top swimmers, for favoring Sun during his career. It did not announce Sun’s three-month ban for doping imposed by Chinese authorities until after it ended in 2014.

The Lausanne-based FINA declined to comment on attempts to remove Young and stop WADA’s case. Young did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Months before the public hearing by CAS, Sun’s lawyers and FINA asked Young to stand down from the case because of a possible conflict of interest. Young had resigned from FINA’s legal commission in February 2019 to free himself for WADA’s appeal, the federal court document stated.

The open-door doping hearing in Montreux, Switzerland, was streamed live for 10 hours on the CAS website.

Neither previous procedural appeal — judged by CAS in July and the federal court in October — was aired in the doping hearing when the sample collection incident was examined. During the late-night confrontation, a security guard eventually used a hammer to smash a container holding a vial of Sun’s blood as the swimmer lit the scene with his mobile phone.

“That is pretty sensational,” Young said three months ago in court. “But he (Sun) was nailed on a tampering violation before any of that happened.”

Sun has denied any wrongdoing. Any ban imposed in the coming days would likely prevent him defending his 200m freestyle title at the Tokyo Olympics.

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