ZURICH (Reuters) – A case in which China’s multiple world and Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang is accused of anti-doping violations will be held in public in a break from usual procedure, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has appealed to CAS against a decision by swimming’s governing body FINA to clear Sun of wrongdoing during a random drug test last September.
Documents leaked to the media have revealed that Sun questioned the credentials of the testers before members of his entourage smashed the vials containing his blood samples with a hammer. The 27-year-old has denied any wrongdoing.
Sun competed at last month’s world championships in South Korea under the shadow of the WADA appeal and three rivals snubbed him after races, by either refusing to shake his hand or join him on the podium.
Other swimmers publicly backed the protests but Sun said he had acted in the “interests of all athletes” and been subjected to “insults and slander.” Sun’s lawyers said last month that he wanted a public hearing to clear his name.
Sun served a three-month doping suspension in 2014 for taking the stimulant trimetazidine, which he said he took to treat a heart condition. The substance had been banned a few months before Sun failed the test.
A second doping violation would inevitably bring a harsher sanction and could rule him out of next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
CAS said that it would be only the second case in its history to be held in public — the previous in 1999 also involved FINA.
“At the parties’ request, the hearing, which will likely take place in Switzerland, will be open to the public (including the media),” said CAS in a statement.
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights rejected appeals by footballer Adrian Mutu and speed skater Claudia Pechstein who claimed that their cases were not given a fair hearing at CAS.
However, in doing so the ECHR agreed with Pechstein that she should have been given a public hearing.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)