Olympic champ Sun Yang faces public hearing in doping case

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FILE - In this Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 file photo, China's Sun Yang is overcome by emotion after his gold medal win in the men's 1500-meter freestyle swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. One of Chinas biggest Olympic stars will undergo a rare public trial of a doping case on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 with his 2020 Tokyo Games place at stake. Three-time gold medalist swimmer Sun Yang is facing a World Anti-Doping Agency appeal in Switzerland that seeks to ban him for up eight years. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

GENEVA – One of China’s biggest Olympic stars will undergo a rare public hearing in a doping case on Friday with his 2020 Tokyo Games place at stake.

Three-time gold medalist swimmer Sun Yang is facing a World Anti-Doping Agency appeal in Switzerland that seeks to ban him for up to eight years for allegedly refusing to give samples voluntarily.

The case is notorious for a vial of his blood being smashed with a hammer by his bodyguard. Sun allegedly helped by lighting the scene with his cellphone.

It’s a colorful detail of a late-night dispute between Sun’s entourage and officials trying to take blood and urine samples after visiting his home in China.

However, much of the case hangs on protocol and paperwork: Did the three anti-doping officials in China conduct themselves properly and have correct authorization documents to make their September 2018 visit valid?

A tribunal appointed by world swim body FINA sided with Sun and merely warned him, though noted “it was a close-run thing.”

“It is safe to describe the entire (visit) as problematic, highly unusual and, at times, confrontational,” the FINA panel wrote in a 59-page ruling, also noting “troubling and rather aggressive” conduct by Sun and his entourage.

WADA believes Sun violated rules by refusing to provide samples requested on a properly scheduled visit. The agency challenged the FINA panel’s verdict with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.