Sun Yang Ban Reduced But Three-Time Champion Will Miss Tokyo Olympics Following CAS Retrial

Sun Yang: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Sun Yang will not defend his 200 freestyle title at the Tokyo Olympics after he was banned for four years and three months after a retrial at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Chinese swimmer had been handed an eight-year suspension in February 2020 which stemmed from an out-of-competition test in September 2018 during which a vial of Sun’s blood was smashed with a hammer by a member of his team.

There were also allegations of aggression and intimidation of the testers while Sun’s team claimed they didn’t have the correct credentials.


Sun Yang – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Governing body FINA initially ruled that Sun just be issued a caution but an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency was upheld by CAS and the ban imposed.

The three-time Olympic champion appealed the verdict to the Swiss Federal Tribunal which ruled that a member of the three-person CAS panel, Franco Frattini, made biased comments on social media and sent the case back to the CAS for retrial.

A new panel was formed comprising Dr Hans Nater (Switzerland), President, Prof. Jan Paulsson
(France) and Prof. Bernard Hanotiau (Belgium) and the hearing was held in May.

On Tuesday CAS announced it had lowered the length of the ban but ensured Sun will not defend his title in Tokyo next month.

It was backdated to 28 February 2020 meaning he will be free to compete in June 2024, ahead of the Olympics in Paris.

Sun will be 32 by then and his intentions are not yet known: the Chinese trials were held in May this year so should it be the same in 2024, he may not even get the chance to qualify for the team.

It was Sun’s second doping infraction after he tested positive for the stimulant Trimetazidine in May 2014 for which he was given a three-month penalty with four years imposed for the second offence.

The CAS verdict began:

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued a new decision in the appeal arbitration procedure brought by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) in relation to the decision issued by the FINA Doping Panel dated 3 January 2019 (the Challenged Decision) whereby Sun Yang was found not to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) following an outof-competition doping control.”

It continued:

“The new Panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that Sun Yang committed the following ADRVs when an unsuccessful attempt was made to collect blood and urine samples from him at his residence on 4-5 September 2018:

“• Article 2.3 of the 2021 FINA Doping Code (2021 FINA DC) (“Evading, Refusing or Failing
to Submit to Sample Collection by an Athlete”).
“• Article 2.5 of the 2021 FINA DC (“Tampering or Alleged Tampering with any Part of Doping Control by an Athlete or Other Person”).

“The new Panel found Sun Yang to have acted recklessly in particular when he refused to allow the blood samples to leave with the Sample Collection Personnel, causing the abortion of the out-ofcompetition anti-doping control of 4-5 September 2018.

“Like the First Panel, the new Panel found that the appropriate sanction for such ADRV alone should be a 4-year period of ineligibility, in accordance with the 2021 FINA DC. In view of the fact that Sun Yang committed an ADRV in June 2014 for which he received a 3-month period of ineligibility, the present violations constitute his second ADRV.”

Sun Yang

Sun Yang – Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

It also explained a change in the imposition of sanctions where previously they were “bound to impose a unique sanction corresponding to twice the period of ineligibility applicable to the second ADRV, i.e. the harshest possible sanction” – which in this case had been eight years.

Now a panel can select from a range of sanctions based on their assessment of the “entirety of the circumstances”.

The verdict continued:

“The new Panel considered that the circumstances surrounding the sample collection of 4-5 September 2018 merited a period of ineligibility at the lower end of the range: namely the addition of the 3-month period (from 2014) to the 4-year ban applicable in this second case.

“Consequently, the Panel concluded that a period of ineligibility of 4 years and 3 months (i.e. 51 months) commencing on 28 February 2020 is to be imposed on Sun Yang.”

WADA released a statement, saying:

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) welcomes the ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the case of WADA’s appeal against the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) disciplinary panel decision related to an incident that led to a doping control involving Chinese swimmer Sun Yang not being completed as planned.

“WADA had lodged the appeal on the basis that Sun Yang refused to submit to sample collection and tampered with the collection process as per the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) and the related International Standard for Testing and Investigations.

“This was the second time the case came before CAS. It was reheard by CAS following a decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal to uphold a revision application filed by Sun Yang, which set aside the original 28 February 2020 CAS award due to a successful challenge made by the athlete against the Chair of Panel.

WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said: ‘“The decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal to set aside the 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.

“‘Today’s ruling reconfirms WADA’s position in relation to the original FINA ruling, which was that there were a number of points that were inconsistent with the Code.

“‘Today’s CAS ruling validates those concerns.’”

“WADA reviews all anti-doping decisions taken by Code Signatories to ensure they are in line with the Code and the Agency reserves its right to exercise its independent right of appeal when warranted.”


Sun Yang – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

FINA issued a statement which read:

“FINA acknowledges the decision rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case WADA v. Sun Yang and FINA.

“FINA confirms that Mr Sun Yang (CHN) has been sanctioned for 4 years and 3 months, effective as from February 28, 2020.

“FINA will enforce the CAS Award according to its terms, and in accordance with its obligations as a Signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code.

“FINA remains committed to the protection of all clean aquatics athletes worldwide and will carefully consider the 90-page award.”


Advertising: Shop At Swim360


Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x