Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has been found guilty by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bombshell verdict and handed the maximum eight year ban.

A vial of the 28-year-old's own blood sample was smashed with a hammer during the testing session, but Sun was acquitted by swimming's ruling body FINA of anti-doping violations, agreeing that testers had failed to produce adequate identification during their visit.

The ruling outraged the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which took the matter to CAS, demanding a ban of between two and eight years for missing the out-of-competition test.

The Swiss-based CAS upheld the appeal by WADA against FINA and Sun, one of China's most recognisable athletes who had already served a doping ban in 2014.

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The eight year ban effectively ends the triple Olympic gold medallist's professional career in the pool.

"The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the appeal filed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA). As a consequence, Sun Yang (the Athlete) is sanctioned with an eight-year period of ineligibility, starting on the date of the CAS award," a CAS statement read.

The CAS website repeatedly crashed at the time the decision was to be announced, before the news struck that Sun was to receive the maximum ban.

Sun has the right to appeal the ruling at the Swiss federal court.

SUN YANG AND CHINESE SWIM ASSOCIATION RESPOND

In what isn't a surprise, Sun Yang has said he will be appealing the ruling handed down by the CAS and will fight to clear his name.

"This is unfair. I firmly believe in my innocence," Sun told Xinhua News Agency.

"I will definitely appeal to let more people know the truth."

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The governing body for swimming in China, The Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) has issued an apology over the ruling handed down to their own superstar.

"We are deeply sorry (the decision)," the CSA said in a statement. "The CSA has always held a zero-tolerance stance on doping and attached much importance to athletes' anti-doping education."

July 23, 2019 file photo, gold medalist China's Sun Yang, centre, gestures to Britain's bronze medalists Duncan Scott, left, following the medal ceremony in the men's 200m free. Photo / AP
July 23, 2019 file photo, gold medalist China's Sun Yang, centre, gestures to Britain's bronze medalists Duncan Scott, left, following the medal ceremony in the men's 200m free. Photo / AP

FULL CAS STATEMENT ON BAN

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the appeal filed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA). As a consequence, Sun Yang (the Athlete) is sanctioned with an eight-year period of ineligibility, starting on the date of the CAS award.

Following a conflictual anti-doping test at the residence of Sun Yang in September 2018 which resulted in the testing not being completed, the matter was initially referred to the FINA Doping Panel (FINA DP) which found that the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI), the protocol adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the conduct of doping controls, had not been properly followed. Therefore, the FINA DP invalidated the sample collection. As a consequence, the FINA DP determined that the athlete had not committed an anti-doping rule violation.

WADA filed an appeal at CAS against that decision, asserting that Sun Yang had voluntarily refused to submit to sample collection and requesting that a period of ineligibility between a minimum 2 years and maximum 8 years be imposed on him.

The arbitration on appeal was referred to a panel of CAS arbitrators, composed of Judge Franco Frattini (Italy), President, Mr Romano F. Subiotto QC (Belgium/UK) and Prof. Philippe Sands QC (UK), which held a hearing on 15 November 2019. Further to the parties' request, the hearing was conducted in public.

The CAS Panel unanimously determined, to its comfortable satisfaction, that the Athlete violated Article 2.5 FINA DC (Tampering with any part of Doping Control). In particular, the Panel found that the personnel in charge of the doping control complied with all applicable requirements as set out in the ISTI. More specifically, the Athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance with the ISTI. As the Panel noted, it is one thing, having provided a blood sample, to question the accreditation of the testing personnel while keeping the intact samples in the possession of the testing authorities; it is quite another thing, after lengthy exchanges and warnings as to the consequences, to act in such a way that results in destroying the sample containers, thereby eliminating any chance of testing the sample at a later stage.

Considering that, in June 2014, the Athlete was found guilty of a first anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), the Panel concluded that, in accordance with Article 10.7.1 FINA DC, an eight-year period of ineligibility, starting on the date of the CAS award, has to be imposed on the Athlete for this second ADRV.

Considering 1) that FINA refrained from seeking the imposition of a provisional suspension on the Athlete when charging him with an anti-doping rule violation, 2) that doping tests performed on the Athlete shortly before and after the aborted doping control in September 2018 were negative, and 3) that in the absence of any evidence that the Athlete may have engaged in doping activity since 4 September 2018, including on the occasion of the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea in July 2019, the results achieved by the Athlete in the period prior to the CAS award being issued should not be disqualified.

The Arbitral Award will be published on the CAS website in a few days, unless the parties agree that it should remain confidential.

SUN YANG'S PAST

Sun, a three-time Olympic freestyle champion, has become one of the most infamous athletes in the world in the eyes of Australians after twice drawing the ire of doping officials and clashing with local favourite Mack Horton.

Sun, who won the 400m and 1500m freestyle in London and the 200m in Rio, first served a doping suspension in 2014 after testing positive to a drug he said he was using to treat heart palpitations and was unaware had recently been added to the banned list.

Australian swimmer Mack Horton spoke out against Sun at the Rio Olympics and his protest appeared to be validated when his rival was accused of refusing to provide blood and urine samples when drug testers visited his home in China in September in 2018.

After being cleared by FINA, Sun was able to compete in the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July, where he won two golds but became a focus of protests from rivals, including Horton who infamously refused to step on the podium after finishing second to Sun in the 400m freestyle.

Sun's CAS hearing, the first in 20 years that was open to the public, was beset by technical difficulties and interpreting errors between Chinese and English which frustrated lawyers and held up proceedings.

Before Friday's verdict was delivered, Australian swimming coach Jacco Verhaeren attempted to downplay the importance of the result on Horton's chances in Tokyo.

"Mack is a very focused athlete, he's not easily distracted and he won't be distracted by this either," Verhaeren said on Friday.

"He has dealt with situations like this before and never gets distracted so he won't be in this case.

"He made his stance. His stance won't change and that is fine. But we're not in the business of commenting on foreign athletes or whatever the outcome is."

Australia's Olympic 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers remains in Horton's corner. "I am in full support of my teammate Mack … I support Mack and what Mack stands for," Chalmers said earlier on Friday.