"Sorry, what's going on, who is this?"
Judge Franco Frattini was visibly annoyed when a man in a light blue shirt ignored the cord between the audience and the spectator's seats to sit on Sun Yang's right and argue with him. The Chinese swimming star had just paused in her closing remarks to wave vigorously at this man. Because he was concerned that the contents of his speech were not fully conveyed. At least that's how it conveyed the translator already sitting on Sun's left.
It was a remarkable end to a no less remarkable day that began with language problems ten hours earlier.
Sun, early in the court hearing, Cas Sun, is set to expose his view of the now infamous Hammer case to a destroyed doping test, for which he should be banned for up to eight years, according to the Wada World Anti-Doping Agency. Just: understanding was hardly something.
When Sun entered the witness stand shortly after nine o'clock in the morning, it soon became clear that no one would be much smarter here, since the translator was hardly more powerful in English than Sun would have been. Sometimes they support the three-time Olympic champion, whose eyes at the beginning of his speech, while still shaking nervously, whose voice in the course of the research, however, always solid and his always silent features, supports his statements with gestures. Only his statements to judges and lawyers were hard to understand. Because instead of explanatory translations, they came up during the nearly two-hour quiz, usually just meaningless fragments in the speakers.
An absurd situation brought on by Sun himself. His team had provided the translators. Thus, CAS rules state that the accused should finally present himself in the best way possible. "Disaster," said Richard Young, Wada's lawyer. There is no chance of a reasonable cross examination. It was so far that Sun's lawyer – apparently assisted by others in the translation process – intervened to point out that "200 doping tests" had just been translated with "200 milliliters of blood."
Language problems as a strategy?
Was Sun the repeated question of whether, after 200 doping tests in his career, he really did not know what consequences it would have if the inspection team could not take the samples, so as not to dodge repeatedly, he simply did not understand? At least he didn't answer. Not a big problem for Young, who seems confident in his cause.
Young is not any lawyer. He represented, for example, the US Anti-Doping Agency against Lance Armstrong and his colleague Floyd Landis and sprinter Marion Jones. Wada stood out when Sun was suspended in retrospect and initially went unnoticed three months in 2014, and also in the Russian state doping scandal, she didn't look good. The world anti-doping authority has a lot to lose, they just announced improvements.
In fact, after ten hours and nine court statements, the Sun side will not win this fight. Whenever one of Sun's five witnesses was cornered, they would retreat to the same statements: the control team couldn't identify themselves enough. No authority, no proper anti-doping control, no offense. The core of your defense. By the way, the parties had agreed that a Wada employee would take over the translation.
60 tests – no complaint
The Wada had two arguments to counter Sun's arguments: First, there was a Wada employee, Stuart Kemp, who, as one of the authors of the ISTI world test rule, made it clear that the passages quoted by Sun as evidence of lack of documentation were the so-called Wada statements. Conduct policies. Recommendations that are not legally binding. Therefore, for ISTI, it is completely impossible if the team can file a power of attorney, as in the present case.
In addition, Wada numbers came into play: 19,000 tests were performed by Swedish service provider IDTM in 2018 with the power of attorney in question. And never has an athlete opposed the power of attorney. The Sun itself has been tested by the IDTM 60 times, but has never protested.
The difference this time, of course, was that the assistant, who should have accompanied Sun in the urine delivery, had introduced himself as a fan and made pictures and videos of Sun – and made the 27-year-old so suspicious. Of course, if that happened, it would be highly professional, said Wada. However, she pointed to the usual procedure, if in doubt, to deliver the necessary samples and at the same time to record her own written objections.
That neither the assistant, the controller, nor the nurse, whose qualifications were also challenged, were presented as Wada witnesses, related to "intimidation and safety issues," Young said, without elaborating.
Sun wants to blame his doctor
Between the lines, another defense strategy could be heard: Sun-side offerings have already been banned twice for Ba Zhen doping crimes as a scapegoat. Originally, Sun said he had taken the sample that was then crushed. Well, let Dr. Ba. Ba, a Sun doctor for ten years, raised the issue of lack of authority. At a time when the Sun had long given blood without objection. "Athletes cannot transfer responsibility," said Young, "this is not a credible defense."
REUTERS / Denis Balibouse
After the hearing, Sun Yang introduced himself to his mother, Ming, who was there that night.
A decision will be announced by the Arbitral Tribunal in January as early as possible. However, there is little evidence that judges only confirm Fina's warning.
In his concluding remarks, Sun, who was sitting almost motionless beside his lawyer for the full ten hours, once again pointed out that he is fighting for athletes' rights to "protect the integrity of the sport." And he asks, "If the inspector brings unauthorized personnel, how can I protect myself?"
The man in the blue shirt had already been returned to the auditorium by Judge President Frattini at the time. He had actually listened to Sun's translation team, but that was not known, a Cas spokesman said. In other words, the man Sun Yang trusted was not properly authorized.