Water Sport

Swim star Sun Yang threatens legal action over doping report

2019-01-27 14:57
Sun Yang (Getty Images)

Beijing -Chinese swimming star Sun Yang threatened legal action against a British newspaper on Sunday over claims that he faced a lifetime ban after allegedly clashing with anti-doping testers and smashing a vial of blood with a hammer.

The 27-year-old, who has won Olympic gold in the 200m, 400m and 1 500m freestyle and is also a multiple world champion, strongly refuted the accusations contained in The Sunday Times.

The newspaper alleged that a confrontation took place and Sun - who was banned for three months in 2014 for taking a stimulant - missed an out-of-competition test on September 4 at his home in Zhejiang province.

"A clash with anti-doping testers ended in him and his security guard using a hammer to smash a sealed vial containing the swimmer's blood," The Sunday Times reported.

After the story broke, Sun's lawyer Zhang Qihuai issued a statement saying that the newspaper had "a malign intention" and "severely damaged Sun Yang's reputation and violated his privacy".

"We reserve the right to file a lawsuit against the relevant international media which reported the incident," the statement added, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The statement stressed that a doping panel for FINA, swimming's world governing body, ruled in Sun's favour on January 3 and said that testers for IDTM - the body which conducts tests - had breached several rules.

Those included failing to produce authorisation letters and a nursing licence, the lawyer said, so Sun elected to reject the testing. 

"And they fabricated an untruthful report claiming Sun Yang broke anti-doping rules and sent it to FINA," said the statement, making no mention about a smashed blood vial or hammer.

Zhang separately said Sunday in an interview, according to Xinhua: "Sun is entitled to reject any invalid doping test and safeguard the reputation and integrity of Chinese athletes."

The Sunday Times also noted that FINA had cleared Sun, but said that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) "has demanded to know more about the extraordinary events".

The newspaper added that the doping panel "handed him (Sun) a series of cautions" and cited the panel as saying that his avoiding an anti-doping rule violation was "a close-run thing".

Sun is one of China's greatest-ever athletes and an Olympic and world-record holder.

But he has faced controversy on several occasions and previously indulged in a long-standing war of words with Australian rival Mack Horton.

Emotions boiled over at the 2016 Rio Olympics when Horton branded Sun "a drug cheat" in reference to the Chinese star's 2014 ban.

Sun maintains that he took the banned stimulant for a heart complaint.

He is hugely popular in China, however, and Sun received the backing on Sunday from the country's swimming association, which said that he had cooperated fully with FINA over September's incident.

The China Swimming Association "has zero tolerance towards doping", it said in a statement.

"The association will continue to strengthen anti-doping work and strictly abide by anti-doping regulations," it added.

Later Sunday, Xinhua published what it said was a copy of a letter from Sun's lawyer demanding an apology and retraction.

The Sunday Times story was "an infringement on Mr. Sun Yang's right of reputation and privacy" because the FINA doping panel had stated that the case should not be made public, the letter said.

Read more on:    sun yang  |  swimming


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