A verdict in one of the world’s most eagerly awaited doping cases won’t be handed down until next year due to translation problems that have overshadowed the saga.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) does not expect to issue a decision in the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) case against Sun Yang until mid-January after the swimmer's public hearing was beset by translation issues.
Sun last month fronted a rare public hearing in a doping case that leaves his 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games place under a serious cloud.
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The three-time Olympic gold medallist faced a WADA appeal in Switzerland that seeks to ban him for up to eight years for allegedly refusing to give samples voluntarily.
The Chinese swimmer proved a highly controversial figure at July’s world championships, where Australian Mack Horton and Brit Duncan Scott famously led the protests against his right to compete.
WADA appealed to CAS after Sun was not punished by swimming's governing body FINA for allegedly smashing viles of blood in front of anti-doping officials during an out-of-competition test at his home last year.
Sun's November 15 hearing was marred by interpretation problems throughout and there will be no decision handed down by CAS before 2020 as the involved parties work to settle on a transcript of proceedings.
A statement from CAS read: "The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) heard the appeal filed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) on Friday, 15 November 2019 during a public hearing held in Montreux, Switzerland which was also live streamed via the CAS website, giving all interested persons across the globe the opportunity to follow the proceedings live.
"Although the organisation and the schedule of the public hearing was to the satisfaction of the arbitrators and parties' counsels, some concerns were raised with respect to the quality of the interpretation of Mr. Yang's testimony.
“It must be emphasised that the CAS regulations provide that if a hearing is to be held, the CAS Panel may allow a party to use a language other than that chosen for the arbitration, on the condition that such party provides, at its own cost, interpretation into and from the official language of the arbitration.
"It is for this reason that, since the language of the proceedings was English, the parties agreed on a private interpretation service to assist Mr. Yang and his witnesses.
“In order to maintain its independence and neutrality, the CAS cannot engage in the hiring of external interpreters.
"The parties are currently preparing an agreed-upon written transcript of the proceedings, including a full translation of Mr. Yang's testimony, which the panel will work from when deliberating and preparing the Arbitral Award.
“In view of these circumstances, the Arbitral Award is not expected to be issued before mid-January 2020."
Sun was banned for three months in 2014 having tested positive for trimetazidine, a prohibited substance that has since been downgraded from stimulant to modulator of cardiac metabolism.
His wins in the 200 metres and 400m freestyle at the World Swimming Championships earlier this year saw Duncan Scott and Mack Horton each refuse to share the podium with him.
Sun, China's most decorated swimmer, has won three Olympic gold medals to go with his 11 world titles.