Sun Yang Prepping to Return from ‘Difficulties and Setbacks’ of Doping Ban

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Sun Yang Prepping to Return from ‘Difficulties and Setbacks’ of Doping Ban

Chinese Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang is preparing to return to swimming once his four-year ban for doping expires in May, with an eye toward the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Sun, 31, conducted an interview with Chinese social media platform Weibo this week. In an Olympic gold-medal-level of understatement, he characterized the last several years as, “different difficulties and setbacks” that he is looking to move past.

Those difficulties: An eight-year ban for interfering with out-of-competition doping test in Sept. 2018 and allegations of intimidating drug testers. The suspension, handed down in Feb. 2020, was reduced on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to more than four years, still long enough to keep him out of the Tokyo Olympics but not long enough to end the career of the then-29-year-old.

Sun became the first Chinese athlete to win an Olympic swimming gold medal when he won the 400 free and 1,500 free at the London Games in 2012. He added the 200 free title four years later in Rio with silver in the 400. The 800 has since been added to the Olympic program for me.

An 11-time World Champion, Sun lamented missing out on this year’s Asian Games in his hometown of Hangzhou. But he remains in the water training for when he can return to competition next year. China does not appear to have set a date for its Olympic Trials in 2024 yet.

“It depends how you stand up from difficulties and setbacks,” Sun said in the interview, as reported by the South China Morning Post. “Athletes are most afraid of falling apart, which will lead to a decline in mentality and state. I always tell myself that I must maintain a healthy body and state. No matter what industry I will be in the future, I can continue to contribute to the training of coaches and clubs.”

Sun turns 32 in December. He reiterated that he is not retired and recently said in an interview that he is training “every day.” In the Weibo interview, he thanked his wife, gymnast Zhang Doudou, for her support during this ordeal.

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