He is the one with the hammer. Although he is also the one with the four Olympic gold medals, dubious celebrity won Sun Yang as the one with the hammer.
In fact, the so-called Hammer affair is arguably the best-known swimming story of the year. The catchy title stands for a night last year, whose events can be described as absurd, but whose consequences can mean Sun's career break.
This Friday, the case comes before the International Court of Justice Cas – in a public hearing in the Swiss Montreux.
What happened that night?
On the evening of September 4, 2018, a three-member inspection team reached Sun Yang's estate for an unannounced doping control. Sun had indicated that he was at home between 10pm and 11pm. However, he and his mother, Ming Yang, did not arrive until eleven o'clock, and at 11:35 pm Sun made a blood test.
About four hours later, the hammer comes into play, according to Sun's side like this: "The athlete's mother instructed a security guard to bring a hammer into the doping control room." He tried to smash the sealed container to get back to the blood sample, but he did not succeed. "Fearing that blood could be spilled, Ms. Yang instructed the security guard to take the container outside to smash it in. This was successfully done by the security guard and the athlete." The control team left without blood and urine samples.
This is to be read in the 59-page report of the Fina Doping Panel, which the Australian daily newspaper "Daily Telegraph" published shortly before the swimming World Cup in the summer. Already in January, the British "Sunday Times" reported on the case.
The described key data of that September night are not very controversial. But very well the views on the events and the consequences that can result.
Why is Sun Yang so controversial?
The three-time Olympic champion from China had been caught in the blood in 2014 with the cardiac remedy trimetazidine and was blocked for three months – but retroactively and initially unnoticed. "A minor accident with doping," said Fina Secretary General Cornel Marculescu. Ever since the Australian Mack Horton called his competitors a doping fraudster at the 2016 Olympics, China's superstar is a symbol of what's going wrong in swimming, which is suspected to be persistent. As an example, that the World Federation Fina prefer doping sinners from lucrative world markets rather than stand for clean sports.
Read more about the background: Why Sun Yang upset the swimming world Recently, there was an outcry that the Fina panel had only warned Sun in the Hammer Affair. The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) filed objections in March. But because neither Wada, nor Fina or Sun's side had applied for an accelerated procedure, Sun could scratch twice in the summer to World Cup gold. In Korea again Horton and later also Duncan Scott had set signs by refusing winning photos with Sun.
AFP / Manan VATSYAYANA
Mack Horton did not want to be on the podium with Sun Yang
How does Sun's side argue?
Since the control was unsuccessful, Sun's behavior can be considered a refusal. And such would amount to a positive test, according to Wada code. Sun's side argues that there should have been no control:
Missing urine sample: Sun's side said the doping control assistant's assistant, whose job it was to accompany Sun during urine delivery, was unable to identify himself adequately. An identity card alone was not enough. Sun had gone to the bathroom several times unaccompanied that night. A clear rule violation.
Missing blood sample: Sun's side argues that the nurse was not qualified to take blood "at that location," as the rules say. Sun had given blood without objection at 23.35, the sample was sealed and packed. Only when his doctor, dr. Ba Zhen, arrived at one o'clock and with his chief physician Dr. Han Zhaoqi phoned, Sun's side had noticed that the nurse was not properly qualified. Your certificate is not enough. It was suggested that Ba could dispose of the samples in his hospital. That was rejected. Then the hammer was used. Dr. Ba Zhen has been banned twice for doping offenses. His boss Dr. Han Zhaoqi is deputy head of the Zhejiang Anti Doping Center – a serious conflict of interest.
What is being negotiated in front of the Cas?
After hearing both sides, the Fina Doping Panel came to the conclusion that neither a so-called refusal to give a sample nor a so-called omission existed. The Wada sees it differently. She demands a ban of two to eight years.
At the center of the hearing, the question will be: is it enough for a control team, as in the current case, to present the required documentation as a unit for scrutiny? Sun's side says: no. Every single person must be able to identify himself as an officially authorized employee. The world-wide Wada rules for controls is not clear here. There is talk of "official documentation" – to interpret in singular as well as plural.
Again, the Wada rules are quite clear that this case is a refusal. But if one follows the argument of the Sun side, then simply no valid control could take place. So, was Sun right in assuming that there was never proper control? Then probably any discussion about a rule violation and the subsequent behavior on his part – as absurd as this may seem – would have done. Then it will stay with the warning. And the reference to the usual normal procedure: it would have been correct in case of doubts in the control or the inspectors to hand over the required samples, and at the same time record their own objections in writing.
Not correct: to use the hammer.