BEIJING (AFP) – China’s national swimming federation on Tuesday rallied behind double Olympic champion Sun Yang, defending the “outstanding athlete” one day after it was revealed that he served a three-month doping ban earlier this year.
The 1,500 metres world record-holder – who is also known for his brushes with authority – won three gold medals at the Asian Games in September after serving the previously unannounced ban.
In a statement posted on its website, the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) acknowledged that the 22-year-old Sun had “made some detours and had some tumbles”.
But it maintained: “Sun Yang is an outstanding athlete who has trained himself to the utmost over a long period of time – even in cases of illness – all for the glory of the country, a feat that is praiseworthy and really not easy.”
“We also hope that friends from the media and all walks of society will continue to care for, support and help Sun Yang to grow,” it added.
CSA officials could not be reached for comment by AFP, and a press conference on Sun’s ban was abruptly cancelled, reports said.
The statement gave no further explanation for the long delay in revealing the ban.
On Monday, the deputy director of the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) told China’s official Xinhua news agency that it had been too busy with other tests to announce Sun’s case earlier.
Sun’s suspension was imposed in July but backdated to May 17, when he tested positive for trimetazidine at the Chinese national championships, the CSA said.
He was stripped of his 1,500m national title and fined 5,000 yuan (US$800). The suspension ended on August 17, a month before the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.