HANGZHOU, China, November 4. A day after being arrested for driving without a license, Olympic champion Sun Yang has apologized for the incident on the social media site Weibo. Additionally, Sun will spend seven days in jail as punishment for the offense.
“I should have been a role model as an athlete and a public figure but I failed in my responsibility,” Sun wrote. “I am deeply sorry for what I have done and will reflect on my behavior. Because I have been focusing on training and competition, I ignored learning some legal knowledge, which led to my mistake.”
According to China.org.cn, Sun had been driving a Porsche Cayenne he borrowed from a family member when a bus veered into his lane and rear-ended the Chinese star while trying to avoid an accident. It was later found that Sun had been driving without a license, which led to an unspecified fine and seven days in jail.
As we reported yesterday, Sun’s been finding himself in hot water all year long due to issues outside of the pool, but has continued to perform in the water. Ever since becoming the top Chinese male swimmer of all time with his two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, Sun has been under intense scrutiny back home. Even though he had an incredible year with a rare 400-800-1500 free world title sweep this summer in Barcelona, he did so amongst the backdrop of his country questioning his training methods as well as his choice of girlfriend.
The Zhejiang Institute of Sports also banned him from business-related activities prior to the World Championships when he began missing practice due to sponsor obligations. Although, under the system set up in China, everyone involved in helping produce Sun still gets a piece of his earnings.
Sun’s situation in China is becoming reminiscent of Michael Phelps in the States. Phelps rarely ever let off-deck problems interfere with his swimming, but he certainly had some issues now and then with a DUI and a picture with a bong. So, these issues are not unprecedented for elite-level swimmers.