Thursday, April 15, 2021

Sun Yang set for re-trial in May, CAS announces ahead of Tokyo Olympics

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The retrial of the Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang will be held at the highest sports court next month after his initial eight-year ban was overturned for alleged doping violations last year.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Thursday that the case would be heard in the week of May 24-28 by video link from Lausanne due to travel restrictions and health protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CAS held a first hearing in November 2019 before his three-judge panel imposed an eight-year ban on Sun. However, the original verdict was overturned and a new trial was ordered when The Swiss Supreme Court ruled in Decemberr that the presiding judge showed an anti-China bias in social media posts.

Three different judges from Switzerland, France and Belgium have now been selected to hear the case, the CAS said.

He did not give a timeline for his verdict, but the decision is expected to be rendered urgently, with the hearing due to end less than two months before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23.

Sun is the world champion in the 400-meter freestyle and the heats for this event begin on July 24.

Sun became China’s first Olympic men’s swimming champion when he won the 400 and 1,500 freestyle titles at the 2012 London Games. He also won the 200 freestyle in Rio de Janeiro four years later.

The case concerns an unsuccessful attempt to collect blood and urine from Sun when sample collection officials visited his home in China for an unannounced visit in September 2018.

The incident became contentious when the swimmer and his entourage questioned the officials’ credentials.

According to the evidence, Sun used the light from his cell phone in the dark to help a security guard smash the case containing a vial of his blood. The guard was instructed by Sun’s mother and used a hammer to smash the case and make sure the blood couldn’t be used for doping tests.

Sun has always denied wrongdoing and was first warned only by an independent tribunal appointed by swimming’s governing body, FINA. This decision was challenged at CAS by the World Anti-Doping Agency and led to the eight-year ban.

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