China’s top swimmer Sun Yang said he was shocked and would appeal after being handed an eight-year ban on Friday for a dope test violation that rules him out of the Tokyo Games.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) earlier accepted an appeal from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against a decision by swimming body FINA to clear Sun of wrongdoing for his conduct during the 2018 test.
CAS said the eight-year ban was imposed because Sun, 28, already had an earlier anti-doping rule violation against him from 2014.
Sun protested his innocence and said in a statement that he was angered by the decision. “I have entrusted a lawyer to appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in accordance with the law. I will let more people know the truth,” he added. “I firmly believe in my innocence! Believe that facts must overcome lies!
“I will fight to the end to defend my legitimate rights and interests.” Sun and members of the 28-year-old’s entourage had smashed vials containing blood samples taken at an out-of-competition test in September 2018.
The Chinese is reigning world and Olympic champion in 200m freestyle and won two gold medals at the 2012 London Games and another at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but is also a controversial figure in the sport.
At the Rio Games, Australian rival Mack Horton accused him of being a “drug cheat”. At last year’s Gwangju world championships in South Korea, 400m freestyle silver medalist Horton refused to share a podium with Sun, who won the gold while competing under the shadow of the appeal.
The gesture drew applause from other swimmers but a warning from FINA. The case has attracted huge interest in China, where Sun is currently training at the Zhejiang College of Sports in Hangzhou, and the swimming world.—AFP