Lawyer expressing confidence swimming icon didn't violate rules
Sun Yang's legal representative is confident China's superstar swimmer will be cleared of an alleged violation of drug test rules at a public hearing next month.
Ahead of the Nov 15 Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing over an accusation that Sun violated anti-doping rules during a drug test last September, Zhang Qihuai, Sun's lawyer, said he has reason to believe the three-time Olympic champion will be declared innocent of any wrongdoing.
"We resolutely applied to the CAS for an open hearing because we have obtained abundant evidence to prove Sun committed no mistakes regarding the doping control procedure," Zhang, an employee of Beijing's Lanpeng Law Firm, said in a Weibo post on Monday.
"The request for a public hearing, which has been approved, expresses our confidence and determination to purge the injustice hampering Sun from fully concentrating on his Olympic preparation."
The hearing, open to the public and media, will be held at a conference center in Montreux, Switzerland, with some of it live-streamed online, according to a CAS statement.
The court action follows an explosive report from world swimming body FINA's anti-doping committee in January, alleging Sun's entourage used a hammer to smash a blood sample during an out-of-competition drug test last September in his home city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
Sun has denied any physical confrontation with the testing team from Sweden-based International Doping Test and Management, hired by FINA. He said he only rejected the procedure because the testers failed to provide adequate identification or follow protocol.
In January, FINA cleared Sun of any wrongdoing after reviewing the findings of a November closed-door hearing in Lausanne, and allowed him to continue competing. But the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed in March to CAS, challenging the FINA decision and seeking stricter punishment against the freestyle specialist.
Under the shadow of the controversy, Sun competed at the FINA World Championships in July in South Korea, where he won gold in the 200m and 400m freestyle to raise his total of long-course titles to 11 since his worlds debut in 2009.
During the meet, some foreign rivals, led by Australia's Mack Horton, who beat Sun to claim the 400m gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, snubbed the Chinese star by refusing to join him on the podium or shake his hand.
Sun, now training in a high-altitude program in Yunnan province, said he expects the hearing's ruling will help rid him of distractions as he prepares for his third Olympics in Tokyo next year.
"The distorted facts and some unfair media accusations have badly affected my training and life to an extent far beyond tolerance," Sun said in an earlier Weibo post.
"I am looking forward to proving my innocence so I can focus on my swimming career wholeheartedly again," said the 27-year-old.
Sun said some confidential evidence, including footage from surveillance cameras, will be provided to the court.
Sun shot to stardom after winning the 400m and 1500m freestyle golds at the 2012 London Games, becoming China's first male Olympic swimming champion. He added a third Olympic title in the 200m at the Rio Games.
Sun served a three-month suspension prior to the 2014 Asian Games for mistakenly taking the stimulant trimetazidine to treat a heart problem. The drug had been added to WADA's banned list at the beginning of that year.
The CAS hearing was originally set for September but was postponed at the request of one of the parties, CAS said in August.
This marks the second time a CAS hearing will be held in public. The first was in 1999, when Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin challenged a ban for tampering with a urine sample. CAS upheld the standing ban in that case.