Chinese swimming star Sun Yang’s eight-year doping ban has been wiped out – for now – after one of the judges involved in his case was found to have tweeted anti-Chinese sentiments since taking on the case.
Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court ruled that tweets sent by the president of the arbitration panel at the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Franco Frattini, suggested potential bias against Chinese people.
The Italian’s tweets resulted in a halt to the case over the panel’s decision to hand down an eight-year ban for doping offenses stemming from his conduct during a 2018 test.
“The Federal Supreme Court therefore considered that the doubts as to the impartiality of the arbitrator were objectively justified,” said a statement from the court on Friday, as they confirmed that the matter would be sent back to CAS.
“In his tweets, the arbitrator castigates a Chinese practice of dog slaughter and denounces the consumption of this meat at a local festival in China.
“Some expressions refer to the skin color of certain Chinese people he targets. In addition, the arbitrator also made the said remarks in tweets after his appointment as president of the panel of arbitrators deciding in the Sun Yang case.”
Sun and members of his entourage were found to have smashed vials containing blood samples taken during an out-of-competition test in September that year.
The athlete has called into question the credentials and identity of the testing operatives and insisted that he is innocent.
Following the Lausanne court’s ruling, Sun’s case will now return to CAS, which must now open a new hearing into his alleged doping offenses with a new panel of judges in place.
“Ultimately, a new award will be issued which could be different from the first one or similar,” a CAS spokeswoman said, confirming the move.
The ruling means that Sun – the reigning world and Olympic champion in the 200 metres freestyle – may potentially be able to compete at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which are due to take place this summer.