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2020 Summer Olympics

Sun Yang ‘the Harry Houdini of doping control’: British swimmers criticise Chinese icon – Mack Horton appears to agree

  • British Olympians James Guy and Lizzie Simmonds react to report Sun smashed blood samples with hammer
  • World governing body Fina ‘will not consider further speculation and hearsay’ over the incident
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2019, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2019, 10:32pm

Chinese media and fans have decried the blockbuster doping allegations against Sun Yang as “fake news” but it seems some of his fellow Olympic swimmers aren’t so easily convinced.

The 27-year-old – called the “greatest freestyle swimmer of all time” as the only man to win 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle Olympic gold – faces a lifetime ban after a report in British newspaper The Sunday Times claimed he and his team smashed vials of blood samples with a hammer in front of anti-doping testers.

“Smashed with a hammer? He cost me a World Title and also my 3rd Olympic Medal. Oh well, life goes on!” British swimmer James Guy tweeted.

The tweet gathered over a thousand likes and more than 200 retweets – including one from Mack Horton, Sun’s old Olympics nemesis.

China’s Sun Yang faces life ban for smashing blood samples in front of anti-doping testers: report

Sun and Horton famously clashed at the Rio Olympics, with the Australian tearing into the Chinese star in Brazil after taking his Olympic 400m freestyle title.

“I don’t have time or respect for drug cheats,” said Horton when asked about Sun, who has previously tested positive for banned substances.

Horton has not directly made any remark about Sun’s latest scandal – his previous comments sparked fury from Chinese fans and state-run media.

Guy’s fellow Olympian and Team GB member Lizzie Simmonds also weighed in.

Sun Yang scandal: It’s fake news say China swim chiefs as social media backs Olympic champion in face of doping allegations

“Sun Yang must be one of the most controversial athletes on the Olympic scene,” Simmonds tweeted. “He repeatedly fails drugs tests or destroys his own samples, yet continually escapes punishment due to filing ‘technicalities’.

“He’s like the Harry Houdini of doping control.”

The Sunday Times report also alleged Sun and his team kept testers waiting before questioning their legitimacy and leaving the control room to pass urine.

Sun shower: tearful Sun Yang accuses conqueror Mack Horton of dirty tricks after Rio loss

Beijing-based lawyers representing Sun have denied the claims and threatened to sue The Sunday Times.

In a new statement, world governing body Fina said it “will not consider further speculation and hearsay” over the incident involving Sun.

A Fina doping panel had ruled in favour of Sun this month, after stating they would “never know” what happened, but the World Anti-Doping Agency is said to be considering taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Fina has zero tolerance for the use of banned performance-enhancing substances and methods,” the statement added. “Fina remains completely committed to protecting our clean athletes, with a very robust anti-doping programme, and this has proven highly effective in ensuring clean competition at the world championships and Olympic Games.

“Fina continued to implement this intensive approach in Hangzhou, China, during the 14th Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) 2018 and will do so again in the future, to preserve the integrity of our sport.”