Sun Yang Loses Appeal Against June 2021 Suspension Verdict & Must Pay Costs

2022-03-04 Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sun Yang has lost an appeal against the June 22, 2021 decision of the second Court of Arbitration (CAS) hearing into the case of manipulation that landed him in the sin bin for a second time since he tested positive for a banned substance in 2014.

In a 40-page ruling handed down last month, on February 14, the Swiss Federal Tribunal, the court with the final say on matters of Swiss law in appeals against judgements handed down by the CAS, which is based in Switzerland, a panel of five judges rejected the Sun Yang appeal against the four years and three months suspension served on him last June.

Sun Yang has been ordered to pay a 7,000 Swiss-francs contribution to costs of the court and 8,000 Swiss francs towards the costs of the other parties, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and FINA, the global regulator for swimming.

That marked the second hearing at the CAS, after a first process ended in an eight-year suspension for the Chinese distance freestyle swimmer, who then appealed successfully to have that overturned on the grounds that the chairman of the judging panel, Franco Frattini, had used the term “yellow” when tweeting his criticism of China over cruelty to animals along with a video showing a dog being beaten and drowned.

Frattini tweeted before the Sun Yang case was known about but an appeal panel judged that it left sufficient doubt about his ability to be impartial in a case involving a Chinese athlete. That verdict took no account of the fact that the judging panel in the process led by Frattini came down on the side of three Chinese anti-doping testers, including a chief anti-doping tester who said she had been threatened by Sun Yang and his entourage.

That was admitted by Hao Cheng, the national team leader and a boss at the Chinese Swimming Association, at the first hearing when he acknowledged that he had suggested the tester could lose her job if she did not step down and abandon an out-of-competition control on grounds that the testers did not have the correct identification documents with them. The argument over the ID documents required was won by WADA.

The second process reached the same verdict in terms of the reasons why Sun Yang merited suspension but consideration of changes to the WADA Code since the process had started led the second panel to conclude that a suspension of four years and three months was appropriate.

That means that Sun Yang may be eligible, by a matter of weeks, to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Should he make it, he will arrive at his blocks with two WADA Code penalties against him, a count that many in sport believe should be enough for a lifetime ban.

Sun’s firstĀ anti-doping offence, back in 2014, was for trimetazidine, the same banned heart booster for which 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive on the way to controversy at the Winter Olympic in Beijing last month.

In his latest appeal, Sun was represented by a legal team from the Schellenberg Wittmer law firm that is also acting for Valieva and has represented scores of Russian athletes challenging a whole-nation anti-doping ban imposed on Russia by the International Olympic Committee for systematic cheating.

Late last year, Sun Yang was filmed training at a funded performance-sports centre and pool at a time when he is not allowed to have contact or support from any people or facility linked to those affiliated with the CSA and related bodies, including government-funding institutions. WADA is in the midst of an inquiry designed to discover whether there has been any further infringement of the WADA Code. WADA has also asked FINA to make its own inquiries.

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