Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang has been handed an eight-year suspension for violating a 2018 doping test, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled Friday.
According to a CAS release, while Sun has been fighting the accusations for years, the organization decided to accept the appeal filed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asserting that the swimmer failed to comply with an anti-doping test in September 2018.
The 28-year-old swimmer is the first major Chinese sports figure to be given the eight-year ban — which is the maximum that CAS can issue — and the ruling will keep him from competing in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Over his historic career, Sun has taken home three gold medals, two at the 2012 London Olympics and the third from Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
WADA first filed the complaint after anti-doping representatives came to test Sun for performance-enhancing drugs and the swimmer allegedly smashed the vial containing his blood with a hammer, the New York Times 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,” CAS wrote of their decision.
Following the ruling, Sun told Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news agency, that he found the decision “unfair.”
“I firmly believe in my innocence. I will definitely appeal to let more people know the truth,” he added.
WADA shared in a statement that the organization is “satisfied that justice in this case has been rendered” and “welcomes the ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
This isn’t the first time Sun has been suspended from competition over doping allegations.
The swimmer was suspended for three months in 2014 for taking a banned heart medication, which he later claimed he didn’t know was illegal, according to USA Today.
Over the years, athletes have referred to Sun as a “drug cheat” and some refused to shake hands or even stand next to the swimmer after learning of his accusations.
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