“Pride of China” Sun Yang is a “victim of political opinion” and did not violate anti-doping rules, his lawyer said after ban for more than four years ousted the swimming star from the Tokyo Olympics.
The three-time Olympic champion’s career went downhill Wednesday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport was suspended for refusing to hand over a sample to anti-doping inspectors.
At the end of a long-standing controversial case, the Lausanne court reduced the initial ban to eight years after Sun, 29, filed an appeal with the Swiss Federal Supreme Court over the alleged bias.
A new four-year and three-month ban, dated February 2020, excludes the world record holder in 1,500 meters freestyle at next month’s Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Asian Games in his hometown of Hangzhou.
Sun, who was suspended for three months in 2014 for a separate doping violation, will be able to return to the 2024 Games in Paris, although he will be 32 by then.
His lawyer, Zhang Qihuai, said the long legal battle “has highlighted the complexities of international affairs and foreign relations (in sports), the weaknesses and shortcomings of the national system and the protection of athletes.”
“Sun Yang has fulfilled his duties, but he has become a victim of political views in this international case,” Zhang wrote on a Twitter-like Weibo.
Zhang of the law firm Lanpeng called Sun “the pride of China” and added, “No one can understand the helplessness and hardships of the athletes in his position.
“I can only say forever: Sun Yang did not break the rules, and no violations in the results (of doping tests) were found.
“Unfortunately for China and even for the whole world, such an outstanding athlete fell into the hands of international organizations, which are manipulated by some people. “
It was unclear which organizations Zhang was referring to.
‘What a pity’
There was no immediate reaction from San, who has been controversial throughout his career and has clashed with his swimming rivals on numerous occasions.
He always proclaimed his innocence during the grim events of September 2018, when anti-doping inspectors came to his house and a member of his entourage broke a bottle with a sample of his blood.
The reigning 200m freestyle Olympic champion, who is also an 11-time world champion, said testers were not qualified and were not allowed.
But CAS said Tuesday that a new commission, set up following a decision by the Swiss federal government, “found to its satisfaction” that Sun “acted recklessly” and committed two anti-doping rule violations in an unsuccessful attempt to collect blood and urine samples at home. …
The World Anti-Doping Agency has said it welcomes the ban.
The sun has long been celebrated in China, and the question “What does the four-year ban mean for Sun Yang?” Trending on Weibo with at least 190 million views.
Many Chinese people continue to support the swimmer despite this latest stain on his reputation.
“If he is truly innocent, he has been greatly offended,” Yuan Chunfeng, a banking and financial sector employee, told AFP.
“This is such a shame and I am very sorry for him. “
These feelings are unlikely to be shared by his rivals in Tokyo.
At the 2019 World Championships, Australian swimmer Mac Horton refused to pose for photos with Sun on the podium, the protest was echoed by Briton Duncan Scott.
The furious sun screamed to Scott, “I’m winning, you’re a loser,” in scenes of anger rarely seen when sailing.
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