The Court of Arbitration for Sport has delivered its verdict on controversial swimmer Sun Yang today after a prolonged doping battle that has taken place inside and outside the courtroom. Sun, who has long received warm support from the Chinese public, has been hit with an 8-year ban.
The controversy began after three officials visited Sun’s home in China in 2018 to conduct an out-of-competition doping test. Yang allegedly accused the officials of not having paperwork to prove their identities and declined to cooperate. Matters escalated quickly and allegedly culminated in an altercation in which Yang’s mother ordered a member of Sun’s security team to smash the vials containing his blood samples with a hammer.
FINA, the international swimming federation, did not find the swimmer guilty of any wrongdoing. However, WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, appealed the ruling and brought it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In a rare move, Yang and his lawyers asked that the trial be made public in order “to be fully transparent and to clear his name.”
Yang, the first ever Chinese man to win a gold medal for swimming in the Olympics, is one of China’s most beloved athletes. But since he tested positive for trimetazidine in 2014 and was subsequently banned for three months, his career has been under significant scrutiny. The New York Times called him “international swimming’s favorite villain” in a recent report of the case.