The walking controversy that has become Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has taken yet another odd turn days on the eve of Christmas in a perplexing and confusing move by a Swiss court. The World Anti-Doping Agency released a statement saying a Swiss court has overturned an eight-year doping ban against him and sent the case back to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a second time but with a different chairman of judges. Little is known about the actual ruling at this point, but apparently it appears to have hinged on an objection by Sun’s lawyers to former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, the chairman of the three-judge panel. The New York Times is reporting that Sun’s lawyers successfully argued that the head of the CAS panel had made public comments that criticised China and its people. Wada, the only party to release a statement so far, has doubled down on their stance, saying it had “clearly prevailed on the substance of the case” in the CAS award. Reading between the lines, they are keen to point out that Sun has not been declared innocent and they want another shot at taking him down. “Wada will take steps to present its case robustly again when the matter returns to the CAS panel, which will be chaired by a different president,” their statement said. Win for China’s Sun Yang as Swiss court overturns doping ban Sun, 29, has three Olympic gold medals, but his career has been shrouded in controversy. The reigning world and Olympic champion in the 200m freestyle event, won two golds medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and another in 2016 in Brazil. Earlier this year the CAS found him guilty of refusing to cooperate with sample collectors during a visit to his home in 2018. Evidence presented at the CAS hearing proved spectacular in nature, that a blood sample was smashed with a hammer, and that a security guard, instructed by Sun’s mother, broke the casing to ensure it could not be used for testing by Wada. Wada brought the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after world swimming governing body Fina had issued him with simply a warning. Italian judge in Sun Yang CAS hearing ‘mocked swimmer’s mother’ Sun’s reputation has taken a number of hits, most notably from Australian Mack Horton, who famously refused to stand on the podium with him after the men’s 400m freestyle at last year’s World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. Horton also refused to shake his hand, which created international headlines. Sun’s controversial career kicked off in 2014 when the Chinese Swimming Association suspended him for three months after he tested positive for a drug that was banned four months earlier by Wada. The incident created a rift between Wada and the CSA, as the agency accused the country’s governing body for swimming as being tardy with the failed test and not properly upholding the ban. Pundits accused the CSA of trying to wash over the incident to preserve the swimmer’s golden boy image. Since that incident, Sun’s victories, which include more than 10 world championship wins, have been called in question by a number of high-profile personalities in international swimming, and calls for all his medals to be stripped are ongoing. In May, his own fan base surprisingly turned against him, as Sun’s global supporters group disbanded and social media users unfollowed the Olympic champion. The Sun Yang Global Support Association announced its dissolution as Chinese social media users also took the opportunity to apologise to Horton, saying they were wrong to support the disgraced swimmer. Sun Yang CAS doping ban – what happens next? The move was an incredible 180 as Chinese fans had previously been vociferous in their support for Sun, which included a plethora of attacks against Horton by vandalising his house in Australia and posting death threats. The ramifications of this ruling could have a massive impact. The reason being if Sun’s appeal stands as it is right now, he could be eligible to compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which have been delayed until 2021 because of the coronavirus. Sun Yang snubbed in best Zhejiang athlete award for ‘obvious reasons’ Knowing how slow the judicial process is, this could spell disaster given there is less than seven months until the Games. If Sun were to compete in Tokyo it would make international headlines for all the wrong reasons. The International Olympic Committee has also instituted a ban on athletes protesting on the podium, despite resistance from the United States and others, which means if Horton lost to Yang again, and made another statement against the swimmer, he would be reprimanded by the IOC. Nobody wants this. Sun’s reputation is shot and cannot be salvaged. Every indication right now is that the upholding of this appeal doesn’t actually have anything to do with evidence against Sun specifically related to doping, and centres around other matters. Sun, as far as the world is concerned, is guilty as charged, and proving him innocent will take a miracle turnaround. But the slow wheels of justice, as the case now goes back to the CAS and will have to be tried again with different judges, may not turn fast enough to keep the egotistical Sun from doing what nobody wants, and that is dive into the pool in Japan and create yet another tidal wave of controversy.