02/28/2020, 16.51
CHINA
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Chinese swimming champion Sun Yang gets eight-year ban over doping

The three-time Olympic champion refused to take a test in 2018. He had already been sentenced in 2014. Sun plans to appeal. For other athletes, he is a cheat. Sport integrity comes before bureaucratic harmony.

Lausanne (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China's three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang has been banned for eight years for missing a doping test in September 2018.

This follows an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which overturned an early decision to clear him.

The harsh sentence could end the career of the 28-year-old swimmer whose specialties are 200m and 400m freestyle.

Sun had served a three-month suspension in 2014 for taking prohibited stimulant Trimetazidine. At the time, he had said that he had used the drug to treat heart problems.

The banned swimmer plans to appeal the sentence before the Swiss Federal Court.

In his defence, he said that he refused to take the doping test because WADA officials had failed to prove their identity when they arrived at his home in Hangzhou.

On that occasion, he is alleged to have destroy a vial containing his blood samples, an act CAS deems unjustifiable.

By contrast, the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) is backing the athlete, calling on world sports authorities to review anti-doping regulation.

Sun has won 11 world titles since 2011. But many of his rivals have often refused to share the podium with him or shake his hand.

At the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in July in South Korea, Sun won gold in the 200m freestyle but Britain's Duncan Scott refused to share the podium with him because the Chinese swimmer is a drug cheat.

Lizzie Simmonds, UK two-time Olympian and former European champion, hopes that the sentence will send a strong message against those who seek to protect bureaucratic harmony at the expense of sporting integrity.

Sun’s case is not the first time that Chinese athletes have found themselves in the middle of a doping scandal.

In 2012, Xue Yinxian, former chief doctor for the Chinese gymnastics team, revealed that Chinese athletes used anabolic substances, like hormones and steroids.

He admitted that his country's sports authorities implemented programmes similar to those of eastern Europe’s former communist regimes.

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