nfamously labeled a “drug cheat” during the 2016 Rio Olympics, Chinese swimming star Sun Yang has found himself embroiled in scandal yet again, facing a potentially career-ending court battle after “missing” a drug test last year.
That drug test wasn’t so much missed as abruptly aborted, according to a Sunday Times report from January which said that testers arrived at Sun’s home in China last September for a routine out-of-competition test, but that after drawing blood Sun disputed the accreditation of one of the nurses. A clash then ensued, ending with Sun’s mother directing his security guard to smash the vial of blood with a hammer.
Sun’s lawyer has dismissed the newspaper’s account of the events, accusing the Sunday Times of “malicious reporting” with intent to tarnish Sun’s reputation and violate his privacy. The Chinese Swimming Association has similarly stuck up for Sun, calling the report “fake news.”
Tasked with looking into the incident, FINA, the world’s swimming governing body, determined in January that it would “never know” the truth of what had happened and let Sun off with only a warning.
However, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has now appealed this decision. It’s not yet clear when the appeals trial will take place, but a decision against Sun could result in him being permanently banned from the sport.
Sun is China’s most successful swimmer, winning three Olympic gold medals, two in London and one in Rio, to go with numerous other world championships and accolades. The 27-year-old has cultivated the image of an emotionally vulnerable bad boy, contributing to his rock star status in his own country.
In 2014, Sun secretively served a three-month suspension after testing positive for trimetazidine. The swimmer claimed that the stimulant had unknowingly got into his blood via a heart medication which he had been taking for years and was previously legal.
The suspension led to an epic feud two years later at the Rio Olympics with Australian swimmer Mack Horton publicly labeling Sun a “drug cheat.”