Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has had his eight-year ban for doping violations referred back to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after an appeal to a Swiss court, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Sun was banned for eight years by CAS in February after it accepted an appeal from WADA against a decision by swimming body FINA to clear Sun of wrongdoing for his conduct during a 2018 test.
'NOT GOOD ENOUGH': F1 fans filthy over rookie's groping 'disgrace'
Sun appealed that decision and WADA said in Wednesday’s statement they had been informed the Swiss Federal Tribunal had upheld a challenge against the Chair of the CAS Panel but had not made any comment on the substance of the case.
“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,” the statement said.
The New York Times reported Sun’s lawyers had successfully argued to the Tribunal the head of the CAS Panel had made public comments that expressed anti-Chinese sentiments.
The Tribunal was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.
Sun, the reigning world and Olympic champion in 200m freestyle, was banned after he and members of his entourage were found to have smashed vials containing blood samples taken at an out-of-competition test in September 2018.
Sun has questioned the credentials and identity of the testers and has constantly proclaimed his innocence.
The 29-year-old, who won two gold medals at the 2012 London Games and another at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, is a controversial figure in the sport.
Agree and disagree on this Wally. Whatever the merits of the case against Sun Yang his CAS hearing was an absolute debacle. I suspect this decision reflects that, rather than problems with the WADC. But yes, the anti-doping system is otherwise FUBAR.
— Chip Le Grand (@Melbchief) December 24, 2020
He served a three-month doping suspension in 2014 for taking the stimulant trimetazidine, which he said he took to treat a heart condition, while Australian swimmer Mack Horton openly called him a drug cheat at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Horton refused to share the podium with Sun at the 2019 world championships in South Korea, a move that was applauded by other swimmers but condemned by FINA.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.