Australia head swimming coach has questioned a panel decision to clear Sun Yang of wrongdoing in refusing a doping test and urged anti-doping authorities to provide more transparency over the Chinese swimmer’s case.
A FINA doping panel cleared triple Olympic champion Sun of breaching the governing body’s rules in January, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is seeking to overturn the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“A case like this surely doesn’t help the reliability and trust in this system,” Jacco Verhaeren said in comments published by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper yesterday.
“I think WADA, FINA, IOC, all these parties really need to work hard together to provide more clarity, more transparency,” he said.
Verhaeren’s comments come as Sun prepares to extend his haul of nine world titles in Gwangju, South Korea.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper in January reported that world record holder Sun had been involved in a dispute with doping testers in September last year, an encounter that resulted in one of Sun’s blood samples being damaged.
The Chinese Swimming Association rejected the allegations in a statement in January.
Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph posted a 59-page report by the FINA doping panel following a hearing at which Sun admitted to refusing to comply with an out-of-competition test because of his doubts over testers’ accreditation.
The report said that the testers had taken blood samples from Sun while at the clubhouse of his residence compound, but that the swimmer and his entourage then refused to let them depart with the samples during a tense stand-off.
Sun’s mother Ming Yang had a security guard at the residence compound get a hammer to smash open a container containing one of the blood samples.
“The DCO [doping control officer] was horrified,” the report said, citing the tester’s witness statement.
“She went outside the clubhouse and discovered that the athlete and a guard had broken one of the secure sample containers with a hammer,” it said.
Although describing Sun’s behavior as “a huge and foolish gamble,” the doping panel agreed with his contention that the testers had not produced sufficient accreditation and that he had grounds to refuse the test.
“The doping panel is satisfied that the athlete was not properly notified by the DCO,” the report said.
The Chinese Swimming Association was not available to comment on the Daily Telegraph report.
Sun, who has claimed world and Olympic titles at freestyle distances from 200m to 1,500m, served a three-month suspension for testing positive to a banned substance in 2014. The athlete said he was taking medication for a heart condition.
The sanction was not revealed until months after its expiry.
Top international swimmers have expressed dismay over Sun’s reprieve, including Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty.
“I don’t want to see this guy competing at the world championships or Olympics against my teammates who work extremely hard to get there,” the Briton wrote on Twitter in March.
“Pretty sure neither does anybody else,” he added.
A decade ago, the plight of former champion gymnast Zhang Shangwu shocked China and made world headlines when he was discovered begging in Beijing, prompting a recycling magnate to give him a job. That should have heralded a turnaround for Zhang, who had been imprisoned for theft after injury ended his gymnastics career. However, after another stint in jail, Zhang is again making a living on the streets, doing handstands and singing for a live online audience in a parking lot in Baoding. Athletes in China are often reared in special schools from a young age and can struggle to adjust to normal
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