Chinese swimmer Sun Yang celebrates after winning a gold medal in the Men's 200m freestyle event at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 8, 2016. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 28 (UPI) -- An arbitration court handed an eight-year ban Friday to three-time Chinese Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang, one of China's best hopes for gold in Tokyo this summer, for potential doping.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland upheld a successful appeal by the World Doping Agency to an earlier ruling that allowed Sun to continue competing. He won a gold medal last summer at the World Aquatic Championships in South Korea.
The ban means Sun is barred from competing this summer at the Tokyo Olympics.
WADA said Sun, 28, destroyed a disputed blood sample wanted for testing, although he'd been warned against doing so by the anti-doping agency.
Sun said the sample, collected at his home in late 2018, was not valid because test administrators were not qualified. His argument was supported by world swimming body FINA, which allowed Sun to keep competing, but the anti-doping agency immediately filed an appeal and issued further warning for the swimmer to save the sample for testing.
Friday, the arbitration court sided with WADA.
"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," the panel said in its decision. "But 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."
"WADA decided to appeal the original FINA ruling having carefully reviewed it and having concluded that there were a number of points that seemed to be incorrect under the [World Anti-Doping] Code," added WADA Director General Olivier Niggli. "Today's CAS ruling confirms those concerns and is a significant result."
Sun has won three Olympic gold medals -- two at the 2012 London Summer Games and one in Rio de Janeiro four years ago. He'd served an earlier doping ban in 2014.