China turns away from gold medalist amid doping scandal

Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang reprimanded by Chinese state media after receiving guilty verdict

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Sun Yang overcome by emotion after his gold medal win in 2012 Summer Olympics 

Sun Yang overcome by emotion after his gold medal win in 2012 Summer Olympics  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After Olympic gold medalist swimmer Sun Yang (孫楊) was found guilty and sanctioned with an eight-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), his native China began criticizing the world-class athlete who once brought glory to his country.

On March 4, state-owned media outlet Procuratorial Daily published three articles gravely criticizing the conduct of Sun, reversing the previous support domestic media had shown for one of China's biggest athletes.

The issue began with an out-of-competition test made by the World Anti-Doping Agency at Sun's house in Hangzhou in September 2018. According to a hearing, on the instructions of Sun's mother, a security guard broke the casing around the vial to ensure the blood could not be used for anti-doping tests.

During the visit, Sun also questioned the credentials of the testing team and refused to provide a urine sample. With the backing of his entourage, he ripped up his signed consent form for sampling, the SCMP reported.

"The athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance," the CAS panel of three judges agreed in a unanimous verdict, according to AP.

The panel then said, "It was striking that, in the course of his testimony, at no point did the athlete express any regret as to his actions, or indicate that, with the benefit of hindsight, it might have been preferable for him to have acted differently."

Although Sun planned to appeal at Switzerland's highest court, the country where the trial took place, the authors from the aforementioned articles on Procuratorial Daily dismissed the possibility of reversing the decision.

"Inarguably, the decision of Sun to refuse the drug test was a huge mistake. It was either made out of ignorance or negligence," said He Jiahong (何家弘), a law professor from Renmin University of China. "Nowadays, many people in China believe they do not have to follow the rules, especially for those celebrities with money."