Disgraced Chinese swim star Sun Yang could return to his sport in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris after successfully arguing a man who ruled on his doping ban was biased.
The second Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel to hear the swimmer’s case has ruled Sun’s suspension be cut in half to four years and three months.
CAS found the three-time Olympic champion guilty of refusing to cooperate with sample collectors during a visit to his home in September 2018 that became confrontational.
In November 2019, CAS was presented with evidence of how a blood sample had been rendered useless for testing after being struck by a hammer.
The hearing was also reminded of how a security guard instructed by Sun’s mother broke the casing around the vial to ensure the blood could not be used for anti-doping tests.
The now 29-year-old was originally banned for eight years in early 2020 after his case was referred to CAS by the World Anti-Doping Agency which had only issued a warning to the swimmer.
However, that panel’s decision was overturned by the Swiss federal tribunal last December. The tribunal ruled that doubts raised by the athlete’s legal team about the impartiality of one of the original CAS panel, Franco Frattini.
A clash between Mr Frattini and Sun was one of the most dramatic moments in a 10-hour CAS hearing in Montreux, Switzerland in November 2019.
Mr Frattini had upset Sun and his legal team with a series of past tweets, including one from April 23, 2019 that read: “Those horrible sadic chinese (sic) are the shame of mankind !! For how they torture animals they deserve the evil every day! And the chinese (sic) authorities tolerate and encourage.”
A CAS panel later ruled the concerns about impartiality were “objectively justified”.
A new panel was convened and heard the case in May before announcing its decision on Wednesday morning.
The ban is backdated to February 28, 2020, which means although Sun will be suspended for the Tokyo Olympics he could return for the Paris Games in 2024.
The new panel found Sun had “evaded, refused or failed to submit to sample collection” in contravention of FINA’s doping code and that he was also guilty of “tampering or alleged tampering with any part of doping control by an athlete or other person”.
CAS found Sun had “acted recklessly”, in particular when he refused to allow blood samples to leave with the sample collectors.
CAS said changes to FINA’s doping code in relation to second offences which came into effect at the start of this year gave the new panel greater flexibility in deciding a sanction.
It felt that “the circumstances surrounding the sample collection of September 4 and 5 2018 merited a period of ineligibility at the lower end of the range”.