Geneva, Jun 22 (EFE).- The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced Tuesday that a ban on controversial Chinese Olympic and world champion swimmer Sun Yang has been reduced nearly by half to four years and three months.
The start date for the period of ineligibility has been set at February 2020, when his initial eight-year ban was handed down by an earlier CAS panel.
That means the 29-year-old still will not be allowed to compete in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and cannot return to competition until May 2024, just two months prior to the Paris Games.
The second CAS panel held hearings in the case via video conference between May 25 and May 27, with the team of judges headed by Switzerland’s Hans Nater finding that Sun had acted “recklessly” in September 2018 when an anti-doping team attempted to collect blood and urine samples from him at his residence in China in September 2018.
In announcing its ruling on Tuesday, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based CAS recalled that Sun had committed an earlier anti-doping rule violation in 2014 and that the present violations represented his second ADRV.
It noted, however, that the new International Swimming Federation (FINA) doping code that came into force this year affords significantly greater flexibility in terms of penalties, allowing panels to select from a range based on their assessment of the “entirety of the circumstances.”
Sun’s legal team had successfully appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s highest court, which late last year annulled the previous CAS ruling and ruled that a new award would have to be rendered by a newly constituted three-member CAS panel.
In handing down that ruling, it cited the first CAS panel as saying that during an out-of-competition doping control on the night of Sept. 4, 2018, Sun had refused to provide a urine sample after questioning the credentials of two of the sample collection personnel, taken back blood samples that he had earlier provided and torn up a doping control form that he had signed.
However, the court ruled that the athlete’s application to annul that CAS award due to arbitrator bias was “objectively justified” due to a number of past tweets by that arbitrator that contained racist slurs directed at Chinese nationals.
A three-time Olympic gold medalist and 11-time world champion in freestyle events ranging from 200 meters to 1500 m, Sun’s athletic exploits have been overshadowed at times by scandals and outbursts.
Controversy surrounding Sun has even led to ugly scenes involving the Chinese swimmer and rivals who have publicly accused him of cheating and refused to share the podium with him. EFE