On Friday, the Swiss Federal Tribunal confirmed what everyone already knew, that the highest court of sport made a dog’s dinner of its handling of the Sun Yang hearing. The swimmer’s eight-year, career-ending ban was dismissed because of the tweets of the president of the panel, Franco Frattini, the court said. A former Italian foreign minister and high-level EU politician, Frattini expressed none of the tact expected of such a role on Twitter where he called out animal cruelty in China, specifically people eating dog meat. He did this with language that was unbecoming of a judge, to say the least, and could easily be construed as racist. What does the latest Sun Yang ruling mean for the Chinese star’s Tokyo Olympic hopes? The tweets, made in 2018 and 2019, came to light last May – a full six months after the hearing that would rule Sun in violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code of conduct and banned for eight years, effectively ending his career. Now that has been “immediately” bounced back to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and we do it all over again, only adding to the Groundhog Day experience that life has felt like since Covid-19 reared its ugly head. Anything could happen when the new hearing takes place. “Ultimately, a new award will be issued, which could be different from the first one, or similar,” a CAS spokesperson said as per Reuters. That is where it gets even more problematic: CAS could rule for Sun or it could rule for Wada again, but with a different punishment. Who knows? Sun Yang debacle takes another twist as top Swiss court upholds appeal in perplexing and confusing move The Swiss Supreme Court was correct to overturn the original decision as Sun did not get the impartial trial that he was entitled to. His character was not on trial, remember, as much as his detractors might have wanted it to be, nor will it be at this new hearing. Every athlete deserves a fair go but Sun did not get that. It is hard to see if either he or Wada will at the new hearing. How can this new trial be impartial? There’s no way to do that, neither scientifically nor satisfactorily, for both parties. CAS has a lot to answer for in this latest farce of an already farcical chain of events. Their rulings are not meant to be overturned on appeal. Teenagers do more due diligence when it comes to scrolling through someone’s social media The court spoke in December of its regret that objections against Frattini did not come to light earlier so they could have been aired accordingly. While the posts have since been deleted, they were public at the time and they are barking up the wrong tree if they point the finger of blame elsewhere. Frattini’s offending tweets were made after he had been appointed president of the panel. To not check his past posts is unfortunate, to not monitor the serving president of the panel in your biggest case in years is carelessness. Maybe it is too much to ask for a judge to be impartial but stay on top of their potentially racist public proclamations once you have appointed them. This is hardly elite espionage. Teenagers do more due diligence when it comes to scrolling through someone’s social media. This was a schoolboy error from those supposed to be sport’s sharpest legal minds. Those minds cannot afford to make the same mistake again and that starts with losing Romano Subiotto from the panel. Sun’s team filed an appeal against Subiotto, another Italian on the panel, that was not looked at by the Swiss Supreme Court as they had already dismissed the ruling after Frattini’s faux pas. CAS can pick Subiotto again but would be safer to sub him out, lest we end up reliving this all over again, Supreme Court and all, in a few months. They should at least have a look at his social media. Wada should feel short-changed. They had won, fair and square, through legal process and now – through no fault of their own – they see their headline victory overturned and they are back to square one with no idea when a new hearing will be assembled. The timing is another headache no one needed, with the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics set to start in July. Assuming the hearing does not come before the Games begin, then Sun is free to swim, which will be controversial. Jeremy Lin, Sun Yang or Novak Djokovic? What were top SCMP Sport stories of year? Worse than Sun swimming in Tokyo this summer, where he will not be welcomed in all quarters, is the impact the ruling could have. Russia must be rubbing its hands with glee as they look to get their own national doping ban overturned. It will surely not be too hard for them to find some anti-Russian sentiment on social media. Confusion abounds with the Sun case but one thing is clear – CAS are the real dopes of this doping hearing.