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Olympics

Sun Yang, China’s most successful swimmer, gets 8-year ban after refusing doping test

China’s Sun Yang after winning the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the FINA Championships in Beijing on Jan. 18, 2020.
China’s Sun Yang after winning the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the FINA Championships in Beijing on Jan. 18, 2020.
(Lintao Zhang / Getty Images)

China’s greatest swimmer ever was given an eight-year ban by anti-doping authorities Friday, ending his hopes of further gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sun Yang, a three-time Olympian, was found guilty of refusing to cooperate with testers in a unanimous decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

At issue was a September 2018 incident when testers arrived at Sun’s home. A confrontation ensued, with Sun claiming that authorities did not possess proper credentials. His security guard ultimately smashed a vial of blood so it could not be analyzed.

“The athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance,” the CAS panel stated.

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As the first Chinese male swimmer to earn Olympic gold, the 6-foot-7 Sun began his winning streak by taking the 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle titles at the 2012 London Games. He followed up with a freestyle victory at 200 meters at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

In Japan, exhibition games will no longer be open to fans, and teams will play in empty ballparks because of coronavirus transmission fears.

Sun also came away from those Olympics with two silvers and a bronze.

But allegations of Sun’s cheating have triggered resentment within the sport. Opposing swimmers refused to stand on the podium beside him at last year’s world championships.

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Sun, 28, would not regain eligibility until the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He can appeal the ban to the supreme court in Switzerland, where the CAS is located.


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