Sun Yang: Triple Olympic champion given eight-year ban for breaking doping rules

Wada successfully appealed the initial decision from FINA to clear the 28-year-old

Jack Rathborn
Friday 28 February 2020 10:22
Sun Yang has been banned for eight years
Sun Yang has been banned for eight years

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has been banned for eight years for breaking anti-doping rules and will now miss the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found the three-time Olympic champion guilty of refusing to cooperate with sample collectors during a visit to his home in September 2018.

The meeting turned confrontational with a security guard instructed by Sun's mother using a hammer to smash the casing around a vial of his blood. The swimmer, who won 200m gold in Rio, as well as 400m and 1,500m freestyle golds in London, subsequently asked CAS for a public trial.

Sun's fellow swimmers reacted angrily after FINA initially cleared him of any wrongdoing, with Britain's Duncan Scott refusing to shake his hand on the podium at the world championships last year in Gwangju. Sun responded to the snub by firing back: “You’re a loser, I’m a winner”.

The 10-hour CAS hearing was broadcasted on the court's website showed Sun to be evasive at times under questioning that was hampered by severe translation issues between Chinese and English. The CAS panel's verdict was delayed until all parties got a verified translation.


The 6-foot, 7-inch (2-meter) Sun, the first Chinese swimmer to win Olympic gold, has long been a polarizing figure in the pool. Rivals branded him a drug cheat at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and two competitors refused to stand with him on medal podiums at the 2019 world championships.

Now banned until February 2028, the 28-year-old Sun cannot defend his 200-meter freestyle title in Tokyo.

The World Anti-Doping Agency went to CAS after a FINA tribunal only warned Sun. The first ruling was that anti-doping protocol was not followed, making the samples invalid, and cited doubts about credentials shown to him by the sample collection team.

WADA requested a ban of between two and eight years for a second doping conviction.

Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 imposed by Chinese authorities after testing positive for a stimulant that was banned at the time. The ban was not announced until after it ended and he never missed a major event.

That first case led to criticism of FINA for appearing to protect one of the sport's biggest stars in a key market.

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