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China’s Sun Yang hints at return to swimming after doping ban

Chinese three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang hinted Thursday that he could return to swimming after his doping ban, with the suspension set to be lifted just in time for next year’s Paris Games.

“Personally, I have never said I was quitting swimming or announced that I was giving up,” the 31-year-old athlete said in an interview with a sports channel operated by Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Sun’s ban is set to expire in June next year, opening a path for him to stage a striking comeback to the international stage at the Summer Olympics, which begin in late July.

The ban of four years and three months, backdated to February 2020, ruled the 1,500m freestyle world record-holder out of the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Asian Games in his home city of Hangzhou.

“These years, if I hadn’t experienced so many difficulties and setbacks, maybe I wouldn’t have changed so much or grown so fast,” Sun said.

“If one door is closed, maybe another one is opened up for you,” he added.

“It’s impossible for everything to go smoothly for someone. It’s setbacks and difficulties that make a person grow and make a person strong.”

Sun was previously banned for three months in 2014 for a separate doping offence.

The swimmer, who has been dogged by controversy throughout his career, has always maintained his innocence in the murky events of September 2018, when doping inspectors visited his home.

The 11-time world champion said the testers were not qualified or authorised.

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