After Sun Yang was banned for eight years due to a doping scandal, Chinese public opinion was angry that the symbol of the national sport was “stabbed in the back”.
On Monday, based on an appeal from the World Doping Prevention Agency (WADA), the International Court of Sports Arbitration (CAS) ruled an eight-year ban on Sun Yang for violating doping regulations. The 28-year-old fisherman was found guilty of smashing his blood vessel with a hammer when a doping inspection team went to inspect his home in Zhejiang in September 2018.
The above punishment means that Sun Yang will not be able to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games, the arena in which he won 3 gold medals. In addition, if the appeal is unsuccessful in the Swiss Federal Court, the career of the superjumbo 13 times world champion is considered to be over.
Sun Yang’s punishment attracted a huge amount of views on China’s Weibo social network. Most Chinese fans speak out for their idols. According to AFP, CAS’s ruling against Sun Yang became the focus of Weibo with at least 290 million views on February 28 and all called the punishment unjust. Most of the major media and the Chinese Swimming Federation also responded to the punishment for saying that doping inspectors were not eligible and complied with anti-doping regulations. Meanwhile, Sun Yang – who holds a 1,500m swimming record, angrily vowed to appeal to strip the truth when he asserted his innocence.
However, many of Sun Yang’s opponents have voiced support for the CAS ruling. South African contender Chad le Clos – who finished second behind Sun in the 200m freestyle event at the 2016 Olympics, said his Chinese rival had no place in the sport. “Like many other clean swimmers, I competed with Sun Yang and ‘lost’. Drug fraud has no place in sports and we need regulatory agencies to review the damage he has done to our great sport”, Chad le Clos said in a statement on February 28.
Mack Horton, who shocked him when he refused to shake hands and stood at the medal podium with Sun Yang last year, confirmed his bitter feud with Sun was not personal and wanted to ensure sports.
Horton once called Sun Yang a drug fraud at the 2016 Olympics and the world tournament in South Korea last year and received wide support in the swimming community. However, the actions of the Australian fisherman caused a backlash in China when his Instagram account was harassed, including death threats.