Lilly King Slams FINA For Allowing Sun Yang To Race Pending CAS Anti-Doping Process

Lilly King - Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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It’s gold to Lilly King before the gun goes off in Gwangju’s pool at FINA World Championships on Sunday, as far as the vast wave of swimmers weighing in on the Sun Yang controversy goes.

At the Team USA press conference South Korea today, the Olympic 100m breaststroke champion took aim at FINA, saying it is “insane” that Sun should be allowed to compete when he faces a Court of Arbitration hearing that could end his career.

King demanded the world body step up on the fight for clean sport, claiming she will be racing “dopers” over the coming week. Her anger is directed at, among others, direct rival Yuliya Efimova, the Russian who in 2014 tested positive for a banned steroid, made a comeback and was then embroiled in controversy in 2016, culminating in booing and jeering from the athletes’ stand every time a swimmer towing a doping record walked out to their blocks. The King/Efimova battle resumes in Gwangju.

King said FINA is wrong to allow Sun  to race given the judicial process underway for several months.

Swimming World revealed this week that CAS had had no request for an expedited process that could have settled the case before racing in Gwangju.


Extract from the FINA Doping Panel report.
Image of Sun Yang courtesy of SIPA USA

Sun, who tested positive for a banned substance in 2014, is now facing judicial hearing once after testing officials reported that he played a part in the smashing of a vial of his blood with a hammer in a clash with out-of-competition officials near his home last September. Also involved in acrimonious exchanges with testers were Sun’s mother Ming Yang and Dr. Ba Zhen, who received two penalties over his role in Sun’s positive test in 2014, one for supplying a banned substance, the other for working with the athlete at a time when the doctor was supposed to have been serving a suspension.

The FINA Doping Panel let Sun off with a warning, set out in a series of rebukes in a hearing report, the contents of which were exposed by the Sunday Times in London in January. However, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is challenging that Panel decision at CAS. A tentative date in September has been pencilled in for the hearing, meaning that Sun is free to race in Gwangju, no parties to the case having asked for an expedited process at CAS.

Asked how FINA could improve its approach to doping, King said:

“First they can start by not letting people who have smashed blood vials at tests compete at their meets. That’s really sketchy and pretty insane that that is happening. It is kind of sad that we have all said we have raced dopers at some point and they are all probably swimming at this meet. I don’t know what needs to change but something does for sure. Personally I am not remotely comfortable with FINA’s approach to doping.”

Asked about Sun’s presence at the championships, American men’s head coach Dave Durden admitted more had to be done on doping.

“Yes, you want more to be done. I’m not an expert in that field. I’m an expert in coaching and making sure they know their competition is on equal footing, that their competition is drug-free and living a clean lifestyle. That’s all we want. It’s a pretty simple request.”

Questions from Swimming World to FINA on the Sun Yang process have gone unanswered.

Sweeping Changes In FINA Constitution Place FINA Rules Above National & International Laws

Meanwhile, FINA’s administrative leaders have pressed through changes to the FINA Constitution that include adding more executives to the mix while reducing the number of athletes with a vote at Congress (the body of nations that is said to be the highest authority of FINA) from eight to seven.

The rule changes include one in which any federation that cannot follow FINA Rules because of national laws (and international laws such as those that apply commonly to athletes across Europe under competition authority regulations including the rights of citizens) can be suspended by FINA.

Below is the FINA statement, the image showing how FINA has sought to place FINA Rules above national and international laws. Questions sent to FINA on that matter have gone unanswered.


The FINA Constitution proposals agreed in Gwangju included provision for FINA leaders to place FINA Rules above national and international laws, on threat of suspension of member nations

FINA statement

With the presence of delegates from 167 National Federations, the FINA General Congress was held today in Gwangju (KOR), where the 18th FINA World Championships is being staged until July 28. The two main points of the Agenda included the approval of the FINA Financial Statements 2017-2018 and the validation of changes in the Constitution, General, Facilities and Anti-Doping Rules.

Following the recommendations from the FINA Audit Committee and from the independent auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers SA, the delegates unanimously approved the FINA Financial Statements 2017-2018 as presented to the Congress.

Concerning the changes of rules, all new proposals were approved by a huge majority of the National Federations’ representatives.

Among the most significant changes, we can include:

  • Change in the composition of the Executive, which will now include nine persons, namely the Immediate Past President;
  • National Federations and Continental must hold general assemblies every two years and elective congresses every four years. Reports of these Assemblies must be presented to FINA;
  • The Bureau has the right to suspend a member if it is unable to preserve its independence for reasons beyond its control (example: governmental interference);
  • Seven members of the FINA Athletes Committee will have the right to vote in the FINA Congress;
    Creation of a FINA Electoral Commission, formed by independent members, which will oversee the electoral process and have the final decision for the office of FINA President, FINA Vice-Presidents and FINA Bureau Members. In parallel, the Congress was informed of the Bureau’s approval of “Regulations for Elections”, which will be included in the FINA By-laws;
  • Members of FINA organising or sanctioning the organisation of a competition shall strictly enforce or procure the enforcement of FINA rules, including but not limited to the rules governing eligibility at or in connection with the competition;
  • On FINA Doping Control Rules, the delegates approved minor adjustments following the recent partnership between FINA and ITA (International Testing Agency). As part of this agreement, the out-of competition testing programme will be performed by ITA, while FINA remains responsible for the in-competition controls;
  • On Facilities Rules, the delegates approved the improvement of technical aspects in aquatic venues.

Finally, the Congress also approved, following the recent loss of Vice-President Dennis Miller, the nomination of Matthew Dunn as Vice-President for Oceania, and Romani Katoa (COK) as new Bureau member for this Continent.


  1. Lee Thomas

    Hear, hear…clean swimmers only please!

  2. Sharon Moran


  3. Paul Griffin

    More swimmers should be like her and Horton in speaking out for their sport in the absence of FINA doing it. It’s the very thing you never see cyclists do.

    • Mattias Löwe

      I think Peaty has said a few things, but yes, Mack Horton and Lily King are leading the way. NEED more to follow.

  4. Shalvin Sharma

    Innocent untill proven guilty? Besides that dude (Sun Yang) is a gifted talent that most of the world wants to watch!

    • avatar
      Craig Lord

      Shalvin, I rather doubt you’re in a position to know what the world wants to watch, nor to speak for them 🙂

    • Lee Thomas

      Shalvin Sharma I don’t think they do!

    • Kath Taylor

      Lee Thomas I agree with you!

    • Kath Taylor

      If he’s that gifted why did he feel the need to CHEAT!!

    • Carrie Turunen

      Shalvin Sharma he is a proven cheat and I do not want to watch Sun.

    • Paul Hartigan

      he cheated twice – I don’t think he is innocent

    • Shalvin Sharma

      Kath Taylor right now that’s an assumption.. and for most elite athletes at some point it happens… world record holder, so many hopes on him, the pressure.. hates to loose… its a hard life. But he is gifted no doubt, watch him!!

    • Shalvin Sharma

      He could be using something for build up and recovery before events etc but right now that’s just an assumption.. for most elite athletes at some point it happens… the weight of being the world record holder, a champion…so many hopes on him, the pressure.. by the looks of it he hates to loose.. its a hard life. But he is gifted no doubt, watch him!! For me personally its a joy to watch him and ladecky swim all the time.

      • avatar

        Shalvin. You make sweeping statements like ‘the world’ and ‘most elite athletes’ … You have no evidence that ‘most elite athletes … use something to … etc’. There is, of course, evidence that Sun did, a positive test and a suspension to prove it. Beyond that, I can’t think of a swimmer in US, GB, Ger, AUS, ITA, far and wide in Europe, JPN – and on and on, who think it likely they would have got off with a warning for the things that testers have alleged unfolded on the night of Sept 4 last year. I’m sorry you feel such things can be overlooked in favour of ‘talent’ and ‘show’ etc, but if this thread of comment is anything to go by, you would appear to be in small minority (I wouldn’t want to make a sweeping statement beyond what’s obvious).

  5. Thanos Diama

    Ηey King! You cant also do a world record without steroids!

    • Heather York DiFulvio

      Thanos Diama Then they don’t set world records. However, I think all of the clean athletes like Phelps, King, Soni, possibly even Sjostrom and Hosszu would disagree.

      • avatar
        Tall And Wet

        Lilly King should focus on her races rather than make political statements how FINA handles the rules. Most of you in this thread havent read the 2014 case and are willing to jump to the conclusion that the SOLE reason was to cheat, but if it was one of your own youd defend them to the hills. So hypocritical. Give the man his day in court

  6. Nuno Albuquerque

    Insane! No doubt Lilly King! What’s on FINA’s mind? 😛😚🤨

  7. Brett Davies

    Crazy and I think that she is right Sun should not be allowed to swim.

  8. Alexander B Gallant

    Alright Lilly standing up for right. Sun Yang should be suspended

  9. Agree. Just as how they allowed rutja meilyte, unknown spelling, to bypass her long overdue drug testing, where she didnt show up, with retirement. Smh

  10. Ludmila Soroosh

    How many times he needs to be caught to be suspended? Every year there is a story about him. Gee!

  11. avatar
    David Abineri

    Why wouldn’t FINA require that any and all pending cases be settled before ,say, 2 months prior to any major competition like this? This, it seems to me, would be to everyone’s benefit so there are no questions about any athlete’s status.

    David Abineri

  12. avatar

    I don’t understand why she cares. She is BEATING all the dopers. She WON the OLYMPICS against dopers. Just keep winning your races and stop complaining like a 12 year old.

    • avatar

      Nathan, she cares because clean sport matters; she cares because she’s seen teammates being beaten by dopers; she cares because she works bloody hard and follows the rules; she cares because the rules say one thing, the rule makers often allow something else to unfold. She’s not the 12-year-old in this scenario. One might ask why you care what she says, after all you have nothing tom lose either way. ‘Just keeping winning your races’ – dear o dear, that’s what they said to the girls who managed to get a win in now and again when the GDR and China 1990s were in full flow. And they, too heard, ‘stop whining’ from people who, as you put it about yourself, ‘don’t understand’. Many do. She’s not complaining; she’s raising a red flag on what ought not to be. She’s an elite, professional athlete – and she has a right to fight for what’s right, like Fair Play, clean sport, even treatment for all in the anti-doping system and process.

  13. Jacqui Carpenter

    People get suspended for missing a test. Same punishment for smashing a vial at minimum. Being second offense = life ban.

  14. Reina Hoffman

    Here we go again.The mouthpiece of swimming. It’s not right for these cheaters and I cant stand Sun Yang who should be banned permanently. Hopefully she is concentrating on the one event she is great in and not distracted by things she cant control.

  15. avatar

    Why can’t a declared innocent athlete compete? It’s just that some people want him to be guilty, just as many people don’t understand that some American women athletes lose their hair badly in their twenties.

    • avatar

      “…a declared innocent athlete….” Whom would that be … certainly not Sun. What I don’t understand is why after the kerfuffle over busting his blood tube, another testing was not arranged almost immediately. No excuse, FINA. And possibly the most insulting and logically failed part of Tom’s comment: “… that some American women athletes lose their hair badly in their twenties?z’ I’m not sure who you are referencing, Tom. I’ve been watching American women athletes train, compete and retire over the last 50+ years. I don’t recall a single instance that would match this allegation. And finally: “many people don’t understand…” Whatever continent you are from, Tom, you are clearly a member of the local “America haters” club.

  16. Jesse Goodyear

    Kay Macpherson atleast the athlete aren’t standing for it!

    • Kay Macpherson

      Jesse Goodyear when your peers start to stand up, it’s time to give up… How many more chances does this guy get….👿

  17. Leong Jenny

    I like her straightforward !

  18. Sharon Dees Hopper

    Fair race or no race- well done Lily King! That’s what athletic role models should do!

  19. Mikail Odludas

    Just keeping talking as Yulia will beat you clean in all the breaststroke events!

  20. avatar
    Hongyi Xu

    Before you decide to stand up for someone or accuse someone else, please do some fact checking first. It’s so easy for all of us to do on the internet and on social media, but please remember what you said could backfire at you.
    Is FINA perfect? No. Is WADA perfect? No. Is Sun Yang perfect? No. Is Mack Horton perfect? No. Is Shayna Jack perfect? No.
    But when everyone here jumps on the bandwagon without deeper fact-checking, please stop using one sentence judgements to accuse Sun Yang.
    “innocent until proven guilty” or “guilty until proven guilty”?
    Please do not use double standards…just because Sun Yang is Chinese and Shayna Jack is Australian.