On Friday, Chinese swimmer Sun Yang was banned for eight years as he broke anti-doping rules in a late-night incident in which a blood sample container was smashed with a hammer. Now he will not be able to take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He was found guilty by the Court of Arbitration for Sport of refusing to cooperate with sample collectors during a visit to his home in September 2018 that turned confrontational. 

The three-time Olympic champion Sung is China’s greatest ever swimmer and one of the biggest sports stars. In November, in a rare hearing, evidence was presented of how a security guard instructed by Sun’s mother broke the casing around a vial of his blood, while the swimmer lit the early-hours scene with his mobile phone.

“The athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance,” ruled the CAS panel of three judges. 

It is the first time that a Chinese sportsman has received a ban. Chinese fans strongly protested the judgement of the court and the social media platforms were flooded with messages of support for the swimmer. The Sun-supporters described the ruling to be immediate, furious, anti-Chinese and also harmful for the country. 

The 28-year-old Sun, after hearing the judgement, said, “This is unfair. I firmly believe in my innocence.” He further claimed, “I will definitely appeal to let more people know the truth.”

WADA, the anti-doping agency went to CAS after a FINA tribunal only warned Sun. “WADA … is satisfied that justice, in this case, has been rendered,” the body’s director general Olivier Niggli said in a statement. Sun now can appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court but on narrow procedural grounds. 

Sun can now appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court but on narrow procedural grounds. His lawyers have already had three federal appeals dismissed on legal process issues. WADA requested a ban of between two and eight years for a second doping conviction. Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 imposed by Chinese authorities after testing positive for a stimulant that was banned at the time. The ban was not announced until after it ended.

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