China’s three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang has had an eight-year doping ban reduced to four years and three months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
The ban is backdated to 28 February, 2020 and means the swimmer will miss this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.
The 29-year-old missed a doping test in September 2018 and was given an eight-year ban for his second offence.
He was first cleared of wrongdoing by Fina, the swimming federation, in January 2019.
But after an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to Cas that decision was overturned.
Switzerland’s highest court set the ruling aside and the case was once again heard by Cas but with a different panel in place.
Sun had told an appeal hearing in November 2019 that he missed the doping test because testers failed to prove their identity when they arrived at his home.
He also denied a vial containing his blood samples was smashed with a hammer.
His first offence had seen him served a three-month suspension in 2014 for taking prohibited stimulant Trimetazidine.
Cas said that “the new panel found to its comfortable satisfaction” that, when it came to anti-doping rule violations, Sun was guilty of “evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection by an athlete” and “tampering or alleged tampering with any part of doping control by an athlete or other person”.
It added: “The new panel considered that the circumstances surrounding the sample collection of 4-5 September 2018 merited a period of ineligibility at the lower end of the range: namely the addition of the three-month period (from 2014) to the four-year ban applicable in this second case.”
Sun’s lawyer Zhang Qihuai has claimed his client is a “victim of political posturing”.
Writing on Chinese social media on Wednesday, Zhang said: “I can only say forever: Sun Yang did not violate the rules and there were no violations detected in the results [from doping tests].
“Unfortunately for China and even the world, such an excellent athlete has fallen into the hands of international organisations manipulated by some people.”