As Sun Yang barked at British rival Duncan Scott in another volatile medal presentation at the world swimming championships, the International Olympic Committee quietly released a statement that shows the fight against doping in sport is being lost.

Seven years after the 2012 Olympics in London, Uzbekistani wrestler Artur Taymazov — who won gold in the men's 120kg freestyle event — was stripped of his medal.

A reanalysis of his sample with new scientific testing methods revealed the presence of oral turinabol — the anabolic steroid the East Germans used with impunity in the 1980s — and saw the now 40-year-old become the 60th athlete and the eighth gold medallist disqualified from London 2012 after re-tests, according to the BBC.

"The fight against doping is a top priority for the IOC, which has established a zero-tolerance policy to combat cheating and to make anyone responsible for using or providing doping products accountable," the statement read.

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It may be a priority but as a look into Taymazov's history — and an examination of Sun's situation — highlights, it's anything but simple.

Sun's presence in South Korea despite unresolved allegations he destroyed a blood sample so drug testers couldn't take it in September last year has been slammed by everyone from Mack Horton to Dawn Fraser.

The condemnation of his peers certainly speaks loudly against Sun, but like almost every case involving an alleged drug cheat it's almost impossible to be 100 per cent sure of an athlete's guilt without a confession.

China's Sun Yang, centre, holds up his gold medal as silver medalist Australia's Mack Horton, left, stands away from the podium. Photo / AP
China's Sun Yang, centre, holds up his gold medal as silver medalist Australia's Mack Horton, left, stands away from the podium. Photo / AP

Most commentary around Sun this week has neatly summed him up as a swimmer who was banned for doping in 2014 and more recently used a hammer to smash vials of his own blood to avoid detection.

The established facts of both cases are far less emphatic.

Five years ago Sun tested positive for a stimulant called trimetazidine, which had only been banned four months earlier. Sun said he was prescribed the medication for heart palpitations and was unaware it had been listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

He would have been eligible to file the drug for a medical exemption because of his heart condition (a legit issue that forced his last-minute withdrawal from the 1500m at the 2015 world championships when he was a red-hot favourite to win).

WADA reviewed the case file and elected not to proceed any further with it. It's hardly Ben Johnson-style doping.

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Last year's situation is just as inconclusive. According to reports, Sun was visited by three doping controllers — but only one was properly accredited.

He was filmed without his permission while providing the sample and noticed anomalies in the paperwork — leading to a four-hour standoff which ended with a security guard destroying the vials of blood because Sun's team had no faith in the process.

Gold medalist China's Sun Yang gestures to Britain's bronze medalist Duncan Scott. Photo / AP
Gold medalist China's Sun Yang gestures to Britain's bronze medalist Duncan Scott. Photo / AP

An independent panel convened by world swimming governing body FINA found Sun did not commit an anti-doping violation, although the World Anti Doping Agency has appealed the finding.

"The blood that was initially collected (and subsequently destroyed) was not collected with proper authorisation and thus was not properly a 'sample' (and) as a result … is invalid and void," FINA found.

"The conduct on the part of the DCA (doping control assistant) is highly improper and extremely unprofessional. This should never happen …"

Again, you can argue where there's smoke, there's fire. But as former Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority CEO Richard Ings said this week, governing bodies can only deal with facts.

"I am no fan of Sun Yang," Ings tweeted. "But he has served his suspension for a doping violation and he has been cleared by a FINA panel of refusing to provide a sample. Innocent unless and until proven guilty."

The tragedy highlighted by Taymazov's case is how long it might be before that proof emerges.

Taymazov managed to cheat in two Olympic Games — 2008 and 2012 — before he was exposed.

Britain's bronze medalist Duncan Scott refuses to stand with gold medalist China's gold medal winner Sun Yang. Photo / AP
Britain's bronze medalist Duncan Scott refuses to stand with gold medalist China's gold medal winner Sun Yang. Photo / AP

A urine sample he gave in Beijing was retested in 2016 and revealed the presence of banned steroids of turinabol and stanozolol.

By then he'd already defended his gold medal in London, been elected to the lower house of Russian parliament and hailed as one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation. UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov posted a photograph with him on Instagram last year describing Taymazov as a "fight legend".

That's the type of cheating — and reward for cheating — that should prompt the type of outrage that's surrounding Sun. But it's hard to muster the same energy seven years on.

Especially without a devastated silver medalist to act as the face of the devastation.

It would help if Georgia's David Modzmanashvili was today telling us how he felt about being robbed of the crowning moment of his career.

But he's already been caught for cheating in London too — with the same drug.