Chinese Swimmer Sun Yang’s Eight-year Doping Ban Overturned by Swiss Court

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed that a Swiss court overturned the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang. The Swiss court ordered the case to be sent back to the CAS, to be dealt with under a different chairman of the judges handling this high-profile doping case.

A previous verdict from the CAS in February had imposed an eight-year ban against Sun over doping violations. Sun Yang was found guilty of refusing to comply with sample collectors during a home visit in September 2018. Sun also had physical confrontations with the WADA officials at the time.

Sun Yang is one of the top Chinese athletes. The 29-year-old has won two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games and another in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Eight years is the maximum penalty that CAS can impose against an individual. Sun had a prior record in 2014 when he served a three-month doping ban.

SEE ALSO: Witness Harassment: How Sun Yang Fell From National Hero to Disgraced Athlete

The latest court decision may offer the Chinese swimmer an opportunity to attend the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is now scheduled for July 2021. Sun’s eligibility for the Olympics competition will also be a vital issue in the second CAS hearing.

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been informed of the decision of the Swiss Federal Tribunal to uphold the revision application filed by Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and to set aside the 28 February 2020 award of a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Panel. The case is in relation to WADA’s successful appeal against the original Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) disciplinary panel decision following an incident that led to a doping control involving Sun Yang not being completed as planned,” WADA said in the statement on the court decision.

“The Swiss Federal Tribunal’s decision upholds a challenge against the Chair of the CAS Panel and makes no comment on the substance of this case. In the CAS award, WADA clearly prevailed on the substance of the case as it was able to show that there were a number of aspects of the original FINA decision that were incorrect under the World Anti-Doping Code and the related International Standard for Testing and Investigations. WADA will take steps to present its case robustly again when the matter returns to the CAS Panel, which will be chaired by a different president.”


Racists Tweets and Grounds of Bias

The ruling from the Swiss court came after an objection filed by Sun Yang’s lawyers with regards to the chairman of the three-judge panel Franco Frattini, the former Italian foreign minister.

There was a clash between Frattini and Sun during a 10-hour CAS hearing in Montreux, Switzerland in November 2019. That hearing was one of the most dramatic moments held in open court and live-streamed online.

Sun, out of the surprise of his own legal team, waved his arms and was calling another interpreter from the public sears to present his closing statement.

“Who is this guy?” asked an incredulous Frattini. “It is not up to you to appear before the court. There are some rules.”

Frattini later took his frustration against Sun Yang and his legal team onto social media. But such frustration offered clear evidence for Sun Yang’s legal team to file an objection over grounds of bias. Over a series of tweets, Frattini said that “Those horrible sadic Chinese are the shame of mankind!! For how they torture animals they deserve evil every day! And the Chinese authorities tolerate and encourage.”

Those tweets put Frattini’s neutrality as the chairman of the panel in question.

SEE ALSO: Who Should Be Responsible For Sun Yang’s Ban from Competitions

Different Composition of the Panel

The new hearing at the CAS will have a new set of panelists. According to the decision made by the Swiss court, the CAS will have to render a new award in the case of Sun Yang in a different composition of the panel. However, the court has yet to release the full reasoning of its decision.

The other two members of the original three-person-panel are Belgian lawyer Romano Subiotto and British lawyer Philippe Sands. Frattini, Subiotto, and Sands have not made any public comments after the Swiss court ruled against the CAS decision. The CAS has not made any remarks on the matter either.

It remains unclear how the CAS will construct its new panel for the second hearing on Sun Yang’s case. Until the CAS has a new outcome on his alleged doping violation, Sun will not be banned from attending competitions.


It is also important to note that Sun Yang has not cleared his name from this doping violation yet. While the Swiss federal court ordered the case to be re-examined by the CAS, Sun Yang may still face similar penalties due to the severity of his actions when confronting WADA sample collector

According to a hearing in November 2019, under the instruction of Sun Yang’s mother, a security guard used a hammer to destroy Yang’s blood samples to ensure that they could not be used for anti-doping tests. The CAS panel ruled at the time in a unanimous verdict that “The athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance.”

Swimmer Mack Horton has publicly accused Sun Yang of doping. Horton openly called Sun Yang a drug cheat at the 2016 Rio Olympics and refused to share the podium with him at the 2019 World Championships in South Korea. While FINA condemned Horton for such behavior, other swimmers applauded his actions.

Chinese Media Sina Sports reported that Sun Yang has been actively training and learning English since February and has been appealing to the Swiss court regarding the 8-year-ban imposed by CAS. Unlike in previous cases, Sun has not publicly commented on the court decision on his social media.