Chinese swimmer Sun Yang was banned for eight years on Friday for breaking anti-doping rules and will miss the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport 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.
In a rare hearing in open court in November, evidence was presented of how a security guard instructed by Sun’s mother used a hammer to smash the casing around a vial of his blood. The swimmer had asked CAS for a public trial.
A 10-hour hearing broadcast on the court’s website showed Sun to be evasive at times under questioning that was hampered by severe translation issues between Chinese and English. The CAS panel’s verdict was delayed until all parties got a verified translation.
The 6-foot, 7-inch (2-meter) Sun, the first Chinese swimmer to win Olympic gold, has long been a polarizing figure in the pool. Rivals branded him a drug cheat at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and two competitors refused to stand with him on medal podiums at the 2019 world championships.
Now banned until February 2028, the 28-year-old Sun cannot defend his 200-meter freestyle title in Tokyo.
The World Anti-Doping Agency went to CAS after a FINA tribunal only warned Sun. The first ruling was that anti-doping protocol was not followed, making the samples invalid, and cited doubts about credentials shown to him by the sample collection team.
WADA requested a ban of between two and eight years for a second doping conviction.
Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 imposed by Chinese authorities after testing positive for a stimulant that was banned at the time. The ban was not announced until after it ended and he never missed a major event.
That first case led to criticism of FINA for appearing to protect one of the sport’s biggest stars in a key market.