Sun Yang shouldn’t be booking his flight to Tokyo just yet.
Despite the anger in Australia at Thursday’s shock verdict by the Swiss Federal Court to overturn the Chinese swimmer’s doping ban, Sun is still a longshot to compete at next year’s Olympics.
There has been a swift reaction by the World Anti-Doping Authority, which had successfully argued Sun was guilty of destroying a doping sample in 2018, and the Court of Arbitration, which handed him an eight-year suspension from the sport, to his latest escape act.
WADA was quick to note the Swiss court’s decision to overturn Sun’s ban was specifically related to the alleged bias of CAS panel chair Franco Frattini and “as such has no bearing on the substance of the case”.
Frattini’s neutrality was questioned after he put out anti-China tweets in which he protested against a dog festival held in Wuhan. But WADA has no reason to believe a new CAS panel will see the evidence against Sun any differently and declared it will “take steps to present its case robustly again”.
It appears that opportunity will come before July’s Olympics.
Cases are rarely sent back to CAS by the Swiss Federal Court, but in 2007 tennis player Guillermo Canas succeeded in having his doping violation looked at a second time.
It took less than two months for CAS to uphold its ban – and there was less urgency in that case because Canas had already served his suspension and was only fighting to clear his name.
CAS issued a statement on Friday saying “it very much regrets” the objections against Frattini were not raised by Sun’s lawyers earlier and promised to “immediately resume the procedure”.
Sun is accused of destroying a blood vial with a hammer when collectors visited his home in September 2018 during an out-of-competition doping test.
The 29-year-old, who has 11 world championships under his belt and won two golds at the 2012 London Olympics and one in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, had said in February he would fight the ban till the end and defended his action saying the doping testers who went to his home were not qualified.
“Let more people know the truth,” Sun said. “I believe in my innocence! Believe in the truth and defeat the lie!”
Sun also served a three-month doping suspension in 2014 for taking the stimulant trimetazidine, which he said he took to treat a heart condition.
The ban was not announced until after it ended and he never missed a major event.
– with AFP