Sun Yang reacts to doping case bombshell claims
Controversial Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang has released a social media statement to declare "the truth will never be covered by lies' as he awaits his doping case fate.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing panel has retired following Saturday's 10-hour hearing into the World Anti-Doping Agency's appeal against swimming governing body FINA's decision not to sanction the Chinese swimmer over allegations a personal security guard smashed a vial of the swimmer's blood under instruction from the swimmer's mother to prevent it being taken away and tested.
However, the hearing was turned on its head by a report from Chinese state media that claimed one of the people who visited swimmer Sun Yang last year to collect blood and urine samples was actually a construction worker rather than an anti-doping professional.
The Xinhua News Agency, which is China's official state-run press agency and proclaims itself to be the biggest media organisation in the People's Republic, reported the builder attended Sun's residence in the eastern Zhejiang province of Hangzhou because he was friends with one of the doping control officers (DCO) who was on site.
Sun claimed he was within his rights not to provide any samples because he had doubts over the legitimacy of the testers while the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) disputed that suggestion and slammed the Chinese star as "reckless".
Sun Yang has now released a statement for the first time into the fresh evidence, thanking the unidentified "builder" for coming forward to corroborate his claims.
"I want to thank the urine inspector for being honest and brave,' Yang wrote on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
"He stood up and admitted to taking pictures of me that night. He also admitted that no one had ever taught him how to do a doping test and had no relevant training.
"Before the hearing, he expressed his willingness to video testimony to the arbitral tribunal, but CAS did not contact him. However, the truth will never be covered by lies."
Yang has also told Xinhua he felt confident his case will result in the legal rights of athletes being better protected.
"I'm not worried about the final decisions of arbitration," Sun said.
"I'm confident that after today, all anti-doping test agencies will stick to the rules closely, which in turn will give much better protection of the legal rights and privacy to all athletes.
"The good news is that all the stress is gone now after the hearing," he said.
The biggest problem for Sun Yang is that the evidence of the unidentified doping official must be discredited by the hearing panel because of the evidence was not submitted to the Court of Abitration for Sport, before the hearing panel members retired to consider their verdicts.
Sun Yang's lawyer Zhang Qihuai had admitted it is unclear if the court will take into account the new claims from the so-called uncredited doping official.
Xinhua initially quoted an unnamed person as saying he was at the scene but was a construction worker, not a doping control assistant (DCA), and was not taken up on his offer to testify.
"I am a builder and I am always busy at work, day and night. No one ever trained me about the doping test, and it is unnecessary for me to undertake such training," the man reportedly told Xinhua.
"I agreed to give my words at a video conference before the public hearing as they requested. I was ready, but no one had ever contacted me about this."
As it is run by the state, Xinhua is known to promote a pro-China agenda.
The anonymous source said the DCO planning to collect samples from Sun - a former school classmate - asked him for help, which is why he was there.
"Before we entered the test room, the DCO asked me to escort Sun into the bathroom. As my understanding, she was asking me to watch Sun Yang urinating. Because both of them were ladies, I agreed," the builder said.
"Sun is a big star in China and it was my first time being near him. I was excited. I took a couple of pictures outside the room with my cellphone. When I tried to take pictures of him again when we were sitting in the room, Sun told me not to do so.
"I knew nothing about the doping test and nothing about my role that night. I just came to help my middle school classmate at her request. I am a builder."
The man claims when he showed Sun his ID, the swimmer told him he was not accredited.
One of Sun's complaints, in addition to concerns about the paperwork provided, is at least one of the testers was taking photos of him.
Amid concerns over witness intimidation, the anti-doping officials who visited Sun's home testified earlier and did not attend Saturday's CAS session in Montreux, Switzerland, Associated Press reported.
"If they had been professional and had shown their identification, we would not be here today," Sun said during the hearing.
"The officials were not even capable of proving their identity. How could I allow them to take my sample?"
The head of Zhejiang province's anti-doping centre Han Zhaoqi, appearing as a witness for Sun, told the court the procedure was illegal.
He said he had twice issued instructions to Sun's doctor, Ba Zhen, not to allow testers to leave with the doping samples because "blood was collected by a person without valid authorisation … so it was illegal".
WADA has asked for a ban of between two and eight years, saying Sun voluntarily refused to submit to give samples.
Sun became a star in China as the country's first man to win an Olympic title in swimming. He won gold medals in the 400m and 1500m freestyle races at the 2012 London Olympics. He added gold in the 200m at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
In Rio, Australian rival Mack Horton called Sun a drug cheat as anger built over a three-month ban for his positive test in 2014 that some considered too lenient. The ban was initially kept secret by Chinese authorities and swimming world governing body FINA, which some accused of appearing to protect one of its biggest names in a key market.
Sun provoked more anger among rivals by winning two world titles in July while the CAS appeal was pending. Medallists from Australia and Britain refused to stand on the podium with him in Gwangju, South Korea.