Sun Yang’s mother has launched an extraordinary attack on the Chinese Swimming Association, claiming her son’s positive doping test in 2014 was initially covered up.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hit Sun with an eight-year ban on Friday for refusing to give a doping sample in September 2018.
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It is the 28-year-old's second ban for doping after he served a three-month suspension in 2014.
However according to Sun’s mother Ming Yang, Chinese swimming officials attempted to cover up the 2014 ban and manipulate the timing of announcing it.
In a social media post that has since been deleted, Ming says the CSA initially hit Sun with a warning and fine after he tested positive for trimetazidine in May 2014.
The heart booster drug had been included on the banned substances list at the start of that year.
But that was allegedly kept secret so Sun could still compete at the Asian Games in September 2014 where he won three gold medals.
According to Sun’s mother, CSA officials then approached Sun and told him of their plan to manipulate when he could serve a suspension.
“If we report this offence in the way we left it, it will not be approved,” Ming claims CSA officials told her son, according to a translation from Swimming World Magazine.
“Now the Asian Games are over, your result will not be affected and the final outcome in this case will not be announced to the public either.
“We can say that the penalty was for three months sometime between May and October.”
The news of Sun’s positive test was then announced in December 2014, with Sun serving a three-month suspension retrospectively - meaning he wasn’t suspended at all.
At the time FINA did’t challenge the decision.
Lawyer vows to fight Sun Yang suspension
A lawyer for Sun, a hugely popular figure in China, issued a fiery statement on Saturday reiterating that he will appeal, based on “a series of procedural errors”.
“February 28, 2020 was a dark day. It shows the scene where evil defeats justice and power replaces self-evident truths,” Beijing lawyer Zhang Qihuai said in a statement.
“On this day, CAS listened to prejudice, turned a blind eye to rules and procedures, turned a blind eye to facts and evidence, and accepted all lies and false evidence.”
The statement reasserted Sun's defence that doping officials who came to his home were not qualified or authorised, and it was they who decided not to pursue testing.
Sun will sue a doping inspector who gave “false evidence”, said the lawyer, also accusing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of “distorting facts and abuse of power”.
With the Tokyo Olympics just five months away, the reigning 1500m freestyle world record-holder is fighting to save his career and reputation.
A vial of Sun's blood was smashed with a hammer during the contentious testing session in 2018 (reportedly under instruction from his mother), but he was acquitted by world swimming body FINA of anti-doping violations, agreeing that testers failed to produce adequate identification.
But WADA took the matter to CAS, demanding a ban of between two and eight years for missing the out-of-competition test.
In its bombshell judgment, CAS said its panel “unanimously determined” that Sun, whose career has been overshadowed by numerous controversies, had tampered with his doping control.