Sun Yang Facing Lifetime Ban After Incident With Drug Testers

Photo Courtesy: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports

Olympic Champion and world record holder Sun Yang may be facing a lifetime ban from competitive swimming after a run-in with anti-doping officials collecting samples, according to a report that appeared in The Sunday Times.  

According to the report, the incident involved Sun and his bodyguard smashing a sealed vial of the swimmer’s blood with a hammer, destroying the testing sample. The Sunday Times notes that Sun almost missed an out-of-competition test on September 4, 2018, breaking several testing protocols and questioning the credentials of the drug testers. The incident allegedly did not resolve until 4 a.m.

Despite this, FINA reviewed the incident and in a January 3 hearing a panel ruled in Sun’s favor. However, according to The Sunday Times the World Anti-Doping Agency is considering filing an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the incident.

Sun himself has threatened legal action against The Sunday Times, according to a report that appeared on the Channel News Asia website. The swimmer claims that the officials had failed to produce proper documentation for the testing, resulting in Sun attempting to reject the testing. His statement makes no mention of destroying the sample with a hammer as reported in the Times article.

This is not the first controversy involving anti-doping officials that Sun has been involved in. Sun has previously served a 3-month ban for doping that took effect back in May of 2014. That ban was a result of a positive test for the substance Trimetazidine at the 2014 Chinese Nationals, and resulted in the stripping of his 1500 National Title. The ban, however, was not announced until after it had already been completed.

Dr. Ba Zhen, who has been Sun’s longtime doctor, was also banned for a year for his role in that incident, and The Sunday Times reports he was also involved in Sun’s more recent incident with anti-doping officials in September.

Sun has been known for erratic behavior that has grabbed headlines, including a short stint in jail in 2013 for driving without a license that resulted in a subsequent ban from the Chinese Swimming Federation. He also drew attention in 2015 when he assaulted another swimmer in the warm up pool at the 2015 World Championships prior to the start of the 1500 free. He subsequently withdrew from the finals of that event but claimed in a statement that the incident was unrelated, instead blaming his withdrawal on concerns over chest pain.

Swimming World will continue to update this story as it develops.

The Sunday Times and Channel News Asis contributed to this report.


  1. Antonio Costilla

    Australia’s ?? Mack Horton was right all along, and he still faces bullying from Chinese nationals on his social media ?

  2. Cam Dole

    Chinese Lochte? Taking the honesty out of the sport- take him out of it.

    • Stephen Paul

      more like Michelle Smith but at least she had a good back up plan. she is now a sucessful lawyer in her native ireland

    • Cam Dole

      Rachel Sherrington read the article, multiple incidences- not all drug related

    • Stephen Paul

      Cam Dole yang punched a female swimmer who got into his lane during open warmups once and I believe left the meet shortly afterwards due to “unforeseen illness”

      oh that is mentioned in this article I thought this was the sydney papers article I read earlier that didnt mention his questionable past

    • Cam Dole

      Stephen Paul not really sure what you’re arguing for here…

    • Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu

      Cam Dole Seriously? RL is no doper, cheater or violent sexist. There is absolutely not comparison.

      • avatar

        RL has one doping violation under his name. He’s also a lier.

    • Malia Riggs

      Totally agree with you Cam!

  3. Tony MacGuinness

    FINA has ruled on Jan. 3, 2019 that Sun Yang did not violate the World Anti-Doping Code…

    • Pamela Goldsbro

      Tony MacGuinness Fina are gutless and scared of the Chinese

  4. Keith DeWitt

    Connor Jaeger deserves the gold from Rio in the 1500!

    • avatar

      please, the 1500 gold medalist from Rio is Paltrinieri.

    • Catherine de Groot-Hedlin

      maybe Ryan Cochran deserves the gold from London. Sun Yang didn’t even final in the 1500 in Rio

  5. Nancy Pulham

    We all knew he was using didn’t we?

  6. Terrence Moore Robinson Jr

    Been doping for a long time, erase his records, retrieve his medals and ban him for life

    • Carole Machol-Atler

      Terrence Moore Robinson Jr I am nit condoning his behavior, however,I hope you have that as fact seeing now that it’s in print: libel

    • Terrence Moore Robinson Jr

      Tony MacGuinness if you kill innocent people but no one knows, is it still murder?
      Cheating is cheating if all participating don’t do same…
      anyone Lewis, Armstrong, Ben Johnson…

    • Tony MacGuinness

      Terrence Moore Robinson Jr
      But, it is also incumbent on those officials who allegedly were there to carry out the tests to actually have the correct paperwork and credentials available and on their person, to prove who they are.
      This group of so called “officials” did not and could not provide ANY verifiable documentation.

      He was well within his rights to refuse as confirmed by Fina.

  7. Jo Banham

    Robert have you seen this. ??

    • Robert Nesbitt

      Jo Banham yeah read t this morning. He needs to go along with the rest of the bloody cheats

    • Jo Banham

      Robert Nesbitt quite agree

    • Tony MacGuinness

      Robert Nesbitt
      He was cleared by Fina. Shame the so called testers did not have the correct paper work or credentials on them

    • Tony MacGuinness

      Jo Banham
      He was cleared by Fina. Shame the so called testers did not have the correct paper work or credentials on them

  8. Youssef William

    Ibrahem EL Tayeb
    Hwa eh ely by7sal dah??

  9. Tomás Lorca

    This happened over four months ago. FINA made a public statement vindicating the athlete twenty days ago. WADA still can but has not appealed yet.
    And then sometimes it’s him smashing the vials, others say it was his bodyguard, and even his mother was mentioned somewhere.
    Is this incident clear enough so as to produce such and incendiary article from it?

  10. Cormac Mc Reynolds

    It’s a pity about Sun. I love his stroke technique. Beautiful to watch.

  11. Nick Cittadino

    Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…he’s a duck.

  12. Anis Chabi

    Thomas Dufour Mehdi Ayoubi Loïc St-martin Antoine Bernard Lalonde

  13. Bryce Whitehead

    Sub yang is a joke , been a swimming douche for years

  14. Julian Chapev

    Every swimmer that had been popped with doing should be banned for life. He’s a disgrace for our sp.ort

  15. avatar
    We have seen this act before

    Cheaters gonna cheat….

  16. Kelly Howell

    Has anyone considered that he is a victim of his political circumstance?

    • Kristine Murphy Grim

      Kelly Howell like the Chinese government is tainting his samples?

    • Jin Kian

      Same thought . Politicial revenge most probaly from US

    • Pamela Goldsbro

      Kelly Howell .. No.. who cares.. he’s a drug cheat

    • Tony MacGuinness

      Pamela Goldsbro
      The so called test officials failed to present the correct paperwork and did not have the correct identification with them… Would you allow samples to be taken from you without these credentials?
      Fina found in his favour and that he did not break any rules

    • Pamela Goldsbro

      Tony MacGuinness … thanks for the info. Personally I wouldn’t believe anything that comes out of China… I still have visions of their apparent
      “Women’s “ team in Perth 1998.

  17. Wendy Walker

    Good always was a cheat, about time. ????

  18. Zalo Lapo

    As the great French philosopher Camille Lacourt declared at the Rio Olympics, “Sun Yang pisses purple”. Amen

  19. Se-Bom Lee

    Nick Jennens apologise to sun yang

  20. Eric R. Jaeger

    Rules are useless if they are not enforced predictably, timely and consistently.

  21. Erlan Hurtado

    Lifetime ban!!!! Martin Berbetti Guzmán

  22. 张美地

    Ahmed Ali forced retirement bye byes

  23. Chris Henry

    Hope all the young, inspiring future olympians are taking note of this.

  24. Lori Antolick

    Good! He’s TERRIBLE for this sport!!

  25. James Bair

    Weird…Chinese swimmers having issues with Drug testers

  26. Pierre Leclercq

    It’s about time, he’s been cheating since several years now. I just hope they cancel every single medal he gets, and his record too.

  27. Lisa Reinke Hyde

    Has he heard of “Hammer Time”. It probably got lost in interpretation!

  28. Bob Platt

    Why is there even any question about a lifetime ban?

    • Ammar Hasan

      Less competition for you now

  29. Brett Davies

    Time to ban him and strip him of all his records and olympic medals.

  30. Jake Power

    Jarrod Poort Josh King Daniel St GeorgeVonnor Celthuis #sunyanghasasmallwang

  31. Susan Bair

    It’s sad. I actually feel sorry for him. Never cheat. If you lose , work hard see but proud that you lost with honor.

  32. Adrian Betti

    Why does a swimmer need a bodyguard..? Lol

  33. Cracka Mel

    Sounds like a really nice guy.!!! NOT.!!! Who needs this behavior in any sport..???? ?

  34. Conner Andrews

    He’s clearly a vampire, people…. just look at those long fingernails and his teeth. I don’t think you can be a vampire and race fairly.