World and Olympic champion Sun Yang’s hopes of competing in the Tokyo Games have ended after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) reduced the Chinese swimmer’s ban for doping violations from eight to four years.
The shorter sentence announced by the Swiss court means Sun will be eligible for the 2024 Paris Games, when he turns 32.
The 200-meter freestyle champion was suspended after he and members of his entourage were found to have smashed vials containing blood samples during an out-of-competition test in September 2018.
A highly controversial figure in swimming, but with many supporters in the house, Sun had questioned the testers’ credentials and identities and has consistently proclaimed his innocence.
The 29-year-old, who also won two golds in London 2012, was given a boost last December by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, which upheld his challenge to the Cas panel on the grounds that a judge had shown possible bias against Chinese people.
The final Cas panel, chaired by another president, found that Sun had “acted recklessly” by refusing to let the blood samples go. It felt that the conditions surrounding the sample collection “deserved a period of ineligibility at the lower end of the range”.
Therefore, the panel concluded that Sun Yang should be imposed a four-year, three-month ban, commencing February 28, 2020. Sun served a three-month doping suspension in 2014 for taking the stimulant trimetazidine, which he said he was using to treat a heart condition.
Swimming’s world governing body, Fina, said in a statement that it recognized the Cas ruling and would enforce it “on its terms and in accordance with its obligations as a signatory to the global Anti-Doping Code”.
“Fina remains committed to protecting all clean water sports athletes around the world and will carefully consider the 90-page price,” it added. The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) welcomed the ruling in a statement.
“The decision of the Swiss Federal Court to annul the Cas Prize was limited to an appeal against the chairman of the n the Cas panel and had nothing to do with the substance of this case,” said Director General Olivier Niggli.
“Today’s ruling confirms Wada’s position regarding the original Fina ruling, which was that there were a number of points that were inconsistent with the code. Today’s Cas ruling confirms those concerns.
” Australian Mack Horton, who called Sun a drug cheat at the 2016 Rio Olympics and refused to share the podium with him at the 2019 World Cup in South Korea, will be attending the Tokyo Games.
However, he will not be able to defend his 400m freestyle title in Tokyo after failing to qualify for the Australian Trials event. He is included in the team as a relay swimmer.