The World Anti-Doping Agency demanded answers Friday after reports that Chinese swimming star Sun Yang was called up for national training for the Tokyo Olympics in an apparent breach of his doping ban.
The latest incident in the colourful career of the three-time Olympic champion comes two months after he was given an eight-year ban for refusing to provide a doping sample.
‘NOT MADE PUBLIC’: Sun's mother alleges Chinese doping cover-up
‘EVIL DEFEATS JUSTICE’: Lawyer issues wild Sun Yang statement
Unless he is successful with an appeal, the 28-year-old will not be eligible for the Tokyo Games in 2021 and his career is effectively over.
However, Chinese media said on Thursday that Sun had been included on a list of swimmers called up for national training between April 1 and June 30.
Media published a notice purporting to show Sun's name on the list for preparations for the Olympics, which have been moved to the summer of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) subsequently said that the 1500m freestyle world record-holder is "still serving (his) suspension.
"The previous notice is invalid," CSA said in a short statement.
But that may not satisfy WADA, who said in a short statement to AFP on Friday: "We are following up with the relevant authorities to establish the facts in this matter."
Sun has kept a low profile since he was banned. It was his second doping violation, having been suspended for three months in 2014 for taking a banned substance.
Duncan Scott welcomed the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to ban Sun Yang for eight years after he was on the receiving end of a ‘disgusting’ sledge from the Chinese swimmer.
The British star followed in Mack Horton’s footsteps at the 2019 world championships and refused to share the podium with Sun after the 200m freestyle final in South Korea.
That prompted an angry response from Sun, who told Scott ‘you are a loser, I am a winner’.
“I fully respect and support the decision that has been made and announced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” Scott said of the eight-year ban, according to Swimming World.
“I believe in clean sport and a level playing field for all athletes and I trust in CAS and WADA to uphold these values.”
There honestly couldn’t be a worse role model in Sun Yang for young swimmers - absolute disgrace. https://t.co/SgKqIQyQbs— Brad Lynch (@BradleyJamesL10) July 23, 2019
Sun said in the immediate aftermath of February's Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that he would appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.
He is accused of refusing to provide blood and urine samples when drug testers visited his home in China in September 2018.
A vial of his blood was smashed with a hammer during the tempestuous testing session.
Britain's James Guy, a two-time Olympic silver medallist, said he was "shocked" and "speechless" over the reports that Sun was named in the training squad.
"They've been to CAS, he's been given a ban and that's it. It's over," he said, according to Swimming World.
Leading sports lawyer slams Sun Yang doping defence
A top US sports lawyer blasted maligned Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and his Court of Arbitration of Sport defence as a “wild and crazy” performance.
Lawyer Jeffrey Benz, who regularly works on CAS cases, spoke with Chinese sports lawyer Cai Guo and sports reporter Wang Qinbo on the Beijing News last month about the swimmer’s defence.
The show’s guests were asked to rate Sun’s overall performance and Benz savaged the Chinese swimmer.
“Unfortunately, I can’t go lower than a zero, but I’d have to give them a one,” he said, according to the South China Morning Post.
While sport’s reporter Wang have Sun a 7.5 out of 10, Benz wasn’t impressed with the swimmer’s inconsistency in his testimony and behaviour during the trial.
The trial was marred with translation issues and the initial translator, appointed by Sun’s team, was relieved of her duties.
And Benz labelled Sun’s attempt to call a translator from the public gallery to deliver his closing statement as ‘wild and crazy’.
“Here is an athlete who says I am so worried for my own security, who is this person taking pictures of me while they’re collecting urine and blood, yet they had security at the venue of some kind, and he calls this guy up from the audience and says, ‘Hey, sit down here next to me and be my voice’ without any appreciation of the rules,” he said.
“It was strange. The panel called this out in its decision in paragraph 358 of the award.
“So the panel saying he showed even at the hearing he has no respect for the rules, and then they go on and say, ‘The athlete is a world-class athlete with an impressive list of sporting achievements, he is not however above the law or legal process. The rules apply to him as they do to all athletes and he is required to comply with them.’ That sums up the whole case right there. That is it.”
with Yahoo Sport staff