WADA says Swiss court overturns swimmer Sun's doping ban

FILE - In this July 26, 2019, file photo, China's Sun Yang leaves the pool deck following the men's 4x200m freestyle relay heats at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. The World Anti-Doping Agency says a Swiss court has overturned an eight-year doping ban against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and ordered the case back to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a second time but with a different chairman of the judges. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The World Anti-Doping Agency says a Swiss court has overturned an eight-year doping ban against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and ordered the case back to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a second time but with a different chairman of the judges.

In February, CAS found the three-time Olympic champion guilty of refusing to cooperate with sample collectors during a visit to his home in September 2018 that turned confrontational. WADA brought the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after world swimming governing body FINA had issued the now 29-year-old Yang with only a warning.

At stake in a second CAS hearing would be Yang’s chance to compete at the pandemic-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics now set for July 2021.

The Swiss court ruling appears to have swung on an objection by Sun’s lawyers to the chairman of the three-judge panel, former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini.

On Wednesday, WADA said in a statement that it had been informed of a decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal to uphold an application by Yang and to set aside the original February ruling.

“The Swiss Federal Tribunal’s decision upholds a challenge against the chair of the CAS Panel and makes no comment on the substance of this case,” WADA said in the statement.

“In the CAS award, WADA clearly prevailed on the substance of the case as it was able to show that there were a number of aspects of the original FINA decision that were incorrect under the World Anti-Doping Code . . . WADA will take steps to present its case robustly again when the matter returns to the CAS Panel, which will be chaired by a different president (chairman).

“At this stage, WADA has not received the tribunal’s full reasoned decision and therefore cannot comment further.”