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Sun Yang doping retrial ends, with verdict promised in time for Olympics

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang’s high-profile retrial on doping charges at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ended Thursday after a two-day hearing which could clear the way for him to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. 

“The hearing is over on schedule. The date of the decision is not yet known, but it will be by the end of June at the latest,” a spokesperson for the sports court told AFP. 

The swimming competition in Tokyo is due to start on July 24.

Unlike his previous hearing which was held in public, this one was organised via videoconference and was closed to the media. 

The 1500m freestyle world record-holder appeared to have no hope of making it to the Olympics after the Lausanne-based CAS banned him for eight years in February last year for refusing to give a sample following an incident in which a member of his entourage smashed a vial containing Sun’s blood when doping inspectors visited his home.

However, the 29-year-old Sun appealed and Switzerland’s federal supreme court overturned the career-ending punishment last December over alleged bias against the swimmer, who remains a huge star in China.

Sun, who was banned for three months in 2014 for a separate doping offence, has always protested his innocence in the murky events of September 2018.

The reigning 200m freestyle Olympic champion, as well as an 11-time world champion, says the doping testers were not qualified or authorised.

The Chinese Swimming Federation has specified that athletes who won at the 2019 world championships in Gwangju would be “automatically qualified” for the Tokyo Games (July 23-August 8). 

Sun Yang, who won world titles in the 200m and 400m freestyle, meets the criteria and would therefore qualify for Tokyo if the ban is overturned — even if his physical level and the state of preparation remain a mystery. 

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