28th January 2019

Possible appeal against FINA’s decision to clear Sun Yang

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is considering filing an appeal against a 3 January international swimming federation (FINA) decision to clear Sun Yang of charges of evading and tampering with a doping control, reports The Sunday Times. The newspaper reported that the Chinese swimmer smashed a sample bottle and tore up a doping control officer’s (DCO) notes, after contracted testers from IDTM failed to produce sufficient identification when turning up at his home on 4 September 2018 for an out of competition test.

Sun’s lawyer, Zhang Qihuai told Xinhua that Yang ‘reserved the right’ to take legal action against ‘relevant international media which reports the incident’. Zhang told the news agency that the report was ‘untruthful’, however didn’t deny that there had been a dispute with DCOs. ‘The three IDTM staff members failed to produce IDTM authorisation letters and also could not provide either the DCO certificate or a nurse licence’, Zhang told Xinhua. ‘And they fabricated an untruthful report claiming Sun Yang broke anti-doping rules and sent it to FINA’.

In a statement, the China swimming association (CSA) confirmed that the 4 September 2018 test could not be completed ‘because IDTM doping control staff could not provide documents, including a nurse practitioner certificate, in violation of the FINA anti-doping control rules and relevant international standards’. It added that a FINA Anti-Doping Committee panel had found that the IDTM doping control performed on 4 September was invalid, and that Sun had not violated FINA Doping Control Rule 2.3 or 2.5, as charged. 

FINA Doping Control Rule 2.3 is entitled ‘Evading, Refusing or Failing to Submit to Sample Collection’. FINA Doping Control Rule 2.5 is entitled ‘Tampering or Attempted Tampering with any part of Doping Control’. The CSA statement reveals that Yang was cleared of both charges by FINA on 3 January.

Sun won Gold medals in the 400m and 1,500m freestyle at the London 2012 Olympics, plus Gold in the 200m freestyle and Silver in the 400m freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympics. In 2014, he was sanctioned with a three month ban after returning an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for Trimetazidine, which had been added to WADA’s Prohibited List that year. It is normally given to combat angina, however it is understood that it also aids oxygen supply to tissues during exercise.

Sun also won three Golds at the 2014 Asian Games, September 19 to October 4. However, although his ban had expired by then, a ban issued to his doctor had not. A 25 October 2014 statement from FINA (since removed, as the sanction has been served) revealed that Ba Zhen, Sun’s doctor, had been sanctioned with a one year ban in relation to the same AAF. Ba was later sanctioned for administering treatment to Sun at the 2014 Asian Games, as his ban had yet to expire.

Ba’s ban expired on 27 September 2015. According to The Sunday Times’s report, Ba Zhen questioned whether a nurse had the correct paperwork to take a sample from Sun. In a statement, FINA said that its rules prevent it from commenting on the case. ‘I can confirm that WADA is aware of this case and that we are following up accordingly’, wrote a WADA spokesperson in a statement. IDTM and Sun’s lawyer, Zhang Qihuai, were also contacted for comment, however they have yet to reply. 

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