Chinese swimmer Sun Yang’s doping suspension has been almost halved to four years and three months by the second Court of Arbitration for Sport panel to hear his case.
Sun refused to co-operate with sample collectors in September 2018 and was originally banned for eight years by CAS in February last year after his case was referred to it by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
However, that panel’s decision was overturned by the Swiss federal tribunal last December. The tribunal ruled that doubts raised by the athlete’s legal team about the impartiality of one of the original CAS panel, Franco Frattini, were “objectively justified” after the Italian tweeted about the Chinese practice of slaughtering dogs for meat.
A new panel was convened and heard the case in May before announcing its decision on Tuesday. The new ban is backdated to February 28, 2020, which means although he will be suspended for the Tokyo Olympics he could return for the Paris Games in 2024.
The new panel found Sun had “evaded, refused or failed to submit to sample collection” in contravention of FINA’s doping code and that he was also guilty of “tampering or alleged tampering with any part of doping control by an athlete or other person”.
CAS found Sun had “acted recklessly”, in particular when he refused to allow blood samples to leave with the sample collectors.
CAS said changes to FINA’s doping code in relation to second offences which came into effect at the start of this year gave the new panel greater flexibility in deciding a sanction.
It felt that “the circumstances surrounding the sample collection of September 4 and 5 2018 merited a period of ineligibility at the lower end of the range”.