Chinese swimmer star Sun Yang has been banned for more than four years for breaking
anti-doping rules. The ban was confirmed on Tuesday, June 22, following a retrial at
the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The court’s verdict ends his hopes of defending his
Olympic title in the 200 meters freestyle in Tokyo next month.
But the ban was backdated to February 2020, meaning Sun Yang could return for
the 2024 Paris Olympics when he would be 32.
The judges found Sun “to have acted recklessly” when he refused to let anti-doping
officials leave his home with a sample of his blood. The formal charges were for refusing
to give a sample and tampering with doping control.
Sun denied wrongdoing and his original eight-year ban imposed last year was overturned
on appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court, which ordered a fresh trial.
Federal judges ruled the first guilty verdict was tainted because the chairman of that
The three-person panel at CAS showed anti-Chinese bias in social media comments.
The retrial was heard by different judges by video over three days last month and fast-
tracked ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which open on July 23.
For the retrial, Sun’s Geneva-based legal team was aided by lawyers who successfully
represented Russia’s anti-doping agency and athletes in previous CAS hearings about
Sun’s case centered on a failed attempt to take blood and urine from the swimmer by a
sample collection team who made an unannounced visit to his home in China in
It turned confrontational after midnight when he questioned the officials’ credentials.
It led to Sun’s entourage ordering a security guard to smash the casing of a blood vial
with a hammer so that it would not be valid for testing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed to CAS when a tribunal appointed by swimming
governing body FINA only warned the Olympic champion about his conduct.
WADA requested a ban of two-to-eight years for a second doping conviction.
Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 imposed by Chinese authorities after testing
positive for a stimulant that was banned at the time. The ban was not announced until
after it ended.
WADA welcomed the latest CAS ruling on Tuesday, noting that its concerns about FINA’s
“The decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal to set aside the (original) CAS award was
limited to a challenge made against the chair of the CAS panel and had nothing to do
with the substance of this case,” WADA director general Olivier Niggli said.
Sun’s eight-year ban had been imposed after a rare CAS hearing held in open court and
streamed live online. That was requested by the athlete and lasted more than 10 hours
in November 2019 at a special court session in Montreux, Switzerland.