The offer that could get Sun’s doping ban reduced

Sun Yang could be offered a reduction to his career-ending eight-year ban as well as similar witness protection given to Russia's anti-drugs whistleblower if he agrees to lift the lid on swimming's darkest secrets.

That's the deal America's top anti-drugs crusader, Travis Tygart, wants to see happen if China's fallen idol spills the beans on the swimming officials alleged to have lied and covered up his doping offences.

"I would say his best opportunity to get a reduction on the eight years is not some appeal to the Swiss Tribunal but to come clean with everything he knows," Tygart told The Daily Telegraph.

"This includes his conversations with doctors, the FINA representatives and really try to get to the bottom of those allegations."

 

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Furious her son was made the scapegoat when Chinese officials advised Sun to destroy his samples with a hammer at an out-of-competition drug test in 2018, Ming Yang has already launched an astonishing attack on the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA).

In an explosive statement that was quickly deleted after being posted online, Ming accused the CSA of fudging the Sun's positive test to a banned heart stimulant so his results from the 2014 Asian Games would be unaffected.

Sun was given a suspicious backdated three-month suspension that swimming's world governing body FINA approved without challenge, but which later resulted in him getting eight years for his brazen second offence.

"If I was advising Sun Yang at this point, what I would say is sit down and come clean about the things his mum said recently about FINA and Chinada (the China Anti-Doping Agency) because all that is information would be extremely valuable in our process," Tygart said.

The same man who has brought down some of the biggest cheats in sport including Lance Armstrong said Sun would have to be given guaranteed protection in return for testifying against swimming officials but it was the only way the sport would be cleaned up.

 

Silver medal winner Mack Horton refuses to join gold medallist Sun Yang on the podium after the 400m freestyle final at the world championships last year. Picture: AP
Silver medal winner Mack Horton refuses to join gold medallist Sun Yang on the podium after the 400m freestyle final at the world championships last year. Picture: AP

"The system shouldn't just be punishing athletes, he's going to have some consequences, but if there are players in the system that are covering up or hiding then it's much worse," Tygart said.

"From a strategy point, that's arguably more important than bringing cases just against athletes."

More questions have been surfacing about why FINA initially cleared Sun of any wrongdoing after he destroyed his own blood samples before they could be tested for drugs. Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the decision and gave the triple Olympic champion an eight-year ban.

If Sun does not agree to testify, Tygart said a full investigation should be launched into the role Chinese officials played in his downfall because doping officials have wide-ranging powers to investigate and charge anyone that's involved in anti-doping, including intimidating witnesses.

 

No-one else was charged apart from Sun, though a number of sporting bodies, including WADA, FINA and Chinada, have the option of pressing charges once the full decision on the World Anti Doping Agency's (WADA) successful appeal is published.

WADA's lead counsel Richard Young told the hearing in Switzerland that the three independent drug testers who carried out the procedure had been subjected to intimidation.

He also raised questions about the actions of Sun's personal doctor Ba Zhen, who has already served two doping suspensions after giving him the banned heart medication that resulted in his first offence in 2014.

Dr Ba testified that he advised Sun during the 2018 altercation with the testers and personally handled the vial that was later smashed. He would face a life ban under the three strikes and you're out policy if he's found to have been in breach of the regulations.

 

The case comes at a time when the International Olympic Committee has vowed to get tough on athletes' entourages who assist them in doping offences but Melbourne University Sports Law Professor Jack Anderson said Sun's case was complicated and raised questions about FINA's handling.

"It's the unanswered question in all of this, the role of the entourage," Anderson told The Daily Telegraph.

"But the difficult thing is, as far as FINA is concerned, is that when they instigated this it was done in a narrow way.

"With FINA, they are in need of major governance reforms, the commercial element of it and how they deal with their elite athletes is important as well as the integrity stuff.

"It's not difficult, (world) athletics had to do it so the model is there but you have to have the will to do it."


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