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28 Feb, 2020 14:24

'I firmly believe in my innocence': Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang handed EIGHT YEAR ban for breach of anti-doping rules

'I firmly believe in my innocence': Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang handed EIGHT YEAR ban for breach of anti-doping rules

Three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang will miss this summer's Olympic Games after being banned from the sport for eight years for missing a drug test in 2018, in what was the Chinese swimmer's second run-in with drug testers.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has co-signed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appeal against a decision made by swimming's governing body FINA to clear Sun of a doping offence dating back to 2018. At the time Sun was accused of breaking vials containing his blood following a verbal altercation with FINA drug-testers in September of that year.

The Chinese swimmer had previously served a three-month ban in 2014 for taking the prohibited substance Trimetazidine.

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The ruling means that Sun is banned from defending his 200-meter freestyle title and rules him out of competing until he is 36 years old, effectively ending his top-level career in the sport.

"This is unfair. I firmly believe in my innocence," said Sun following the ruling.

He has indicated that he intends to appeal the ruling to the Swiss Federal Tribunal and has 30 days to do so. 

He says that he, his mother and his entourage doubted the accreditation of the drug-testers sent to his home.

"The CAS Panel unanimously determined, to its comfortable satisfaction, that the Athlete violated Article 2.5 FINA DC (Tampering with any part of Doping Control)," the CAS ruling said.

"It is one thing, having provided a blood sample, to question the accreditation of the testing personnel while keeping the intact samples in the possession of the testing authorities; it is quite another thing, after lengthy exchanges and warnings as to the consequences, to act in such a way that results in destroying the sample containers, thereby eliminating any chance of testing the sample at a later stage."

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WADA, meanwhile, supported the ruling and said that they were "satisfied" that justice had prevailed.

The accusations against Sun have led to many of his peers doubting his status as a clean athlete. He won gold at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in July but Britain's Duncan Scott declined the opportunity to stand alongside him on the podium. Australia's Mack Horton did the same following the 400-meter freestyle, labeling the Chinese athlete a "drug cheat."