Sun Yang Dropped From Olympic Training Squad After WADA Alerted To Potential Breach Of Code

Sun Yang and the letters inviting him to join China's Olympic swim training and then withdrawing that offer - Main Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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Sun Yang, the Chinese swimmer banned from sport for eight years from February 28, has had an invitation to join the Olympic swimming team for Tokyo 2021 training withdrawn by the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) after we alerted World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to the potential breach of rules.

Swimming World was alerted to an official notice showing that Sun was among swimmers, coaches and others invited to take part in three-month Olympic training plans from April to June. National swimming team members were informed of the invitation from the CSA (technically the ‘Swimming Management Center of the State General Administration of Sport’, under which the CSA operates), via provincial authorities.

Within hours of Swimming World alerting WADA to the situation today, the CSA issued a new document stating that Sun is serving a suspension and that the previous invitation to Olympic training was void.


The invalidation notice

“Notice No49” was invalidated in a further notice from the CSA, dated April 23, which read:

“Based on the WADA Code, Sun Yang has been banned from competition after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) made the decision. That won’t change during Sun Yang’s appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal against the CAS decision. The previous No49 document is therefore invalid.”

In a reply to Swimming World, WADA confirmed that it would contact the Chinese authorities for the avoidance of doubt:

“When an athlete has been declared ineligible, the terms of Article 10.12.1* of the World Anti-Doping Code apply. We are following up with the relevant authorities to establish the facts in this matter.” (* – see foot of the article)

The notice that included Sun in Olympic training beyond his ban was issued to the Zhejiang Sports Bureau and the Zhejiang Swimming Team. It points out that the three-month training camp was aimed at ensuring a continuation of training at a challenging time of coronavirus pandemic.


Notice No 49

The time period of April to June indicates that Chinese swimmers will be in full pool training at a time when the vast majority of world-class swimmers around the world have no access to pools or water time.

Despite his eight-year suspension, Sun was included on the list of those based in Zhejiang.

The Beijing Daily reported yesterday: “It can be seen from this notice that although Sun Yang ’s appeal lawsuit issue has not been resolved, his name still appears on the list of the Zhejiang swimming team selected for the national training team. He is still a member of the national training team.”

A suspended swimmer cannot be a member of any official team nor work with those associated with such entities, which is what prompted Swimming World to make enquiries with Canada-based WADA on the same day. The CSA reaction followed the same day, albeit the date the following day in Chinese daytime.

The swimmer was handed his second doping suspension after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in favour of WADA when it agreed that the swimmer had “tampered” with a blood sample that he had submitted to anti-doping testers in September 2018 and signed into the chain of command before taking the sample back.

The fateful testing session in a building near Sun’s home, brought to light in a Sunday Times report penned by this author in January 2019, ended after a security guard who had been told by Sun’s mother Ming Yang to fetch a hammer, smashed the outer casing of a vial of Sun’s blood on the pavement outside the control room.

After a hearing in Montreux, Switzerland, last November, the CAS announced its verdict on February 28, the date from which the eight-year ban was imposed. Sun had a 30-day window in which to appeal the decision on technical grounds at the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT – the CAS is based in Switzerland and subject to Swiss law, which is significant in terms of legal procedures and processes and human rights, for example).

Sun’s entourage did not submit an appeal within the 30-day window but the SFT extended the appeal period by a further 30 days to take account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on ‘normal business’.

Among those invited to take part in the Olympic preparation exercise with Sun was one of the key witnesses in his CAS case, Dr Han Zhaoqi. That a doctor involved in anti-doping and a “mentor” of twice-banned Dr. Ba Zhen, who prescribed a banned substance for the swimmers back in 2014, should be part of an Olympic training camp raises more questions in the final chapter of Sun’s 2018 brush with anti-doping authorities.

At the CAS hearing in November, Dr. Han acknowledged that he had advised Dr Ba and Sun Yang to take the submitted blood sample back from testing officers on the grounds that the whole session was invalid because the officers had not brought adequate identification and qualification paperwork with them. That claim was rejected by WADA and contributed to the case going against Sun when the CAS issued its verdict in February.

The notice of invitation to Olympic training included 17 people, including Sun Yang and coach Zhu Zhigen, medley charges Wang Shun and Ye Shiwen, He Junyi, Shang Keyuan, World backstroke champion Xu Jiayu and his Beijing teammate Zhu Menghui. Four Zhejiang team staff, Dr Han among them, are also included on the list of participants in Olympic training.

* – WADA Code Rule 10.12.1 (as incorporated into FINA anti-doping rules):

DC 10.12.1 Prohibition against participation during Ineligibility.

No Athlete or other Person (including Athlete Support Personel) who has been declared Ineligible may, during the period of Ineligibility, participate in any capacity in a Competition or activity (other than authorized anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs) authorized or organized by FINA, any FINA Member Federation, or a club or other member organization of a FINA Member Federation, or in Competitions authorized or organized by any professional league or any international or national- level Competition organization or any elite or national-level sporting activity funded by a governmental agency.

An Athlete or other Person subject to a period of Ineligibility longer than four years may, after completing four years of the period of Ineligibility, participate as an Athlete in local sport Competitions not sanctioned or otherwise under the jurisdiction of a Code Signatory or member of a Code Signatory, but only so long as the local sport Competition is not at a level that could otherwise qualify such Athlete or other Person directly or indirectly to compete in (or accumulate points toward) a national championship or International Competition, and does not involve the Athlete or other Person working in any capacity with Minors.

An Athlete or other Person subject to a period of Ineligibility shall remain subject to Testing.

[Comment to DC 10.12.1: For example, subject to DC 10.12.2 below, an Ineligible Athlete cannot participate in a training camp, exhibition or practice organized by his or her Member Federation or a club which is a member of that Member Federation or which is funded by a governmental agency. Further, an Ineligible Athlete may not compete in a non-Signatory professional league, Competitions organized by a non- Signatory International Competition organization or a non-Signatory national-level competition organization without triggering the Consequences set forth in DC 10.12.3. The term “activity” also includes, for example, administrative activities, such as serving as an official, director, officer, employee, or volunteer of the organization described in this rule. Ineligibility imposed in one sport shall also be recognized by other sports (see DC 15.1, Mutual Recognition).]

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Alberta Haynes-Carlson

Go away!

Lee Chye Seng
4 years ago

Serve him right ! Now who is the real loser?

Kimberly Joy
4 years ago


Fotoula Sefton
4 years ago

Oh karma!

Jacob Roche
4 years ago

Thank god hes gone for good.

Jacqui Carpenter
4 years ago

All over

4 years ago

Why extend the 30-days window to appeal due to Corona?

Bridget Lin
4 years ago

Joshua Teo

Joshua Teo
4 years ago
Reply to  Bridget Lin

Bridget Lin wth is this sucker doing still

Vee Au
4 years ago

Go find a hole and disappear!

Pamela Goldsbro
4 years ago

Why is it that the people who started this global nightmare can get back in the water for a 2 month training camp , while everyone else suffers due to them?

4 years ago

Swimming World Magazine are snitches. To everyone who whines about him cheating: how about you all train harder so you can beat him instead of wasting your time complaining?

4 years ago
Reply to  Craig Lord

He did not beat himself. He is banned for 8 years because you guys snitched him out. If I was an Olympic level swimmer I would rather be able to race him so when I beat him I could tell the world how big of a cheater he is and how my hard work won my championship like Lily King tries to do every opportunity she gets. You’d be best to face the truth and move on too.

4 years ago

Before we flood the comments box with racial tones, let’s point out that Connor Dwyer got caught cheating several months ago and where has the news been? Oh wait….

Serge Score
Serge Score
4 years ago
Reply to  Craig Lord

Nicely done on your rebuttals.
If, I was an Olympic swimmer, sure I’d want to beat Sun, but I wold not want a cheater like him to be given the honour of competing at the Olympics in the first place.

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