Sun Yang, the tainted star swimmer of China, had a eight-year ban overturned by the CAS. Image Credit: AP

Lausanne: Chinese swimmer Sun Yang had his eight-year ban from the sport overturned after a Swiss court “set aside” a February ruling that effectively ended his competitive career. The decision came after Sun’s lawyers questioned the impartiality of Franco Frattini, a former Italian foreign minister and chair of the three-member panel that issued Sun’s penalty, and could enable Sun, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and 11-time world champion, to participate in the delayed Tokyo Olympics next summer.

The case will return to arbitration with a different chairman of the panel, although it is unclear when.

The Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision comes 10 months after it found that Sun refused to cooperate with anti-doping testers in September 2018 in violation of rules established by Fina, swimming’s governing body.

In testimony, evidence was presented that a security guard instructed by Sun’s mother smashed the box containing a vial of his blood with a hammer. After its initial investigation, Fina’s Doping Panel ruled that protocol was not properly followed. The governing body issued a warning to the swimmer, leaving some to wonder whether FINA was trying to protect one of its marquee names.

The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed to CAS, which found that the collection team had “complied with all applicable requirements” and that Sun “failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy the sample collection containers and forego the doping control.”

“WADA clearly prevailed on the substance of the case as it was able to show that there were a number of aspects of the original FINA decision that were incorrect under the World Anti-Doping Code and the related International Standard for Testing and Investigations,” it said in a statement Wednesday, adding that it will “take steps to present its case robustly again when the matter returns to the CAS Panel, which will be chaired by a different president.”

Frattini, who often tweets about the treatment of animals, has posted anti-Chinese sentiments and slurs in recent years, but Sun’s lawyers focused on tweets regarding the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, sent in May and June of 2018 in their request for review against him. Frattini declined to comment on the situation because “he wanted to be able to read the court’s full reasoning first,” according to CNN.