China's world and Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang was handed an eight-year ban on Friday (Feb 28), a sanction that rules him out of this year's Tokyo Games and that could end his career, after he missed an out-of-competition test for doping.
The Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) accepted an appeal from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) against a decision by swimming body Fina to clear him of wrongdoing for his conduct during the test in September 2018.
The 28-year-old is China's top swimmer, having won two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympic games and another in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and the case has attracted huge interest in his homeland.
A Fina report said Sun questioned the credentials of the testers before members of his entourage smashed vials containing his blood samples with a hammer.
He had argued during the CAS hearing that the testers failed to prove their identity and behaved in an unprofessional manner.
He competed at last year's world championships in South Korea under the shadow of the appeal, and three rivals snubbed him after races.
"The CAS panel unanimously determined, to its comfortable satisfaction, that the athlete violated Article 2.5 Fina DC (tampering with any part of doping control)," the statement said.
"In particular, the panel found that the personnel in charge of the doping control complied with all applicable requirements as set out in the ISTI (International Standard for Testing and Investigation).
"More specifically, the athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forgo the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance with the ISTI."