CAS set for key pre-Olympic hearings as Sun, Jack fight for careers

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will hear a pair of key cases ahead of the Tokyo Games that will significantly shape the swimming landscape as Sun Yang and Shayna Jack fight for their respective careers in the pool.

The retrial of Sun, a triple Olympic champion and superstar athlete in his native China, will appear before CAS next week in a three-day hearing set down for May 25-27.

Shayna Jack’s four-year doping ban had been reduced to two years but she faces one final fight.Credit:Paul Harris

He had previously been banned for eight years for an anti-doping violation but it was overturned by Switzerland’s Supreme Court when one of the panellists, Italy’s Franco Frattini, was found to have anti-Chinese bias in his social media history.

It now puts him back on a course to collide with arch-rival Mack Horton, Australia’s Olympic 400m freestyle champion who famously called him out as a ‘drug cheat’ in Rio before refusing to share a podium with him at the dramatic FINA World Championships in 2019.

But the chances of that happening appear remote, with a verdict on Sun’s case due before the Games and the 29-year-old in need of some legal wizardry to prove he wasn’t complicit in a vial of blood being smashed during a routine test at his home in September of 2018.

He will have the benefit of three fresh CAS judges and this case won’t be heard in public and, with any luck, won’t have the same translation issues that beset the original hearing. But those judges were damning in their appraisal of Sun as a witness and went on to rub him out of the sport.

Mack Horton refused to stand on a podium with Sun Yang at the 2019 world championships.Credit:Getty

In any case, the Sun-Horton storyline partly hinges on Horton’s ability to make the Olympic team, which doesn’t appear a certainty given his struggles in the pool this year. He now has serious challenges in the 400m and, despite always struggling to clock decent times during heavy training, must improve dramatically at the trials in June to book his ticket to Tokyo.

Then there is Jack, who had her four-year-ban reduced to two years by CAS late last year, only for WADA and Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) to appeal that verdict and ask for the full ban to be served.

Jack tested positive before the 2019 World Championships to the anabolic agent ligandrol and immediately went on the front foot to deny any intention to cheat. She has always contended she had no idea how the substance entered her system and was found to be highly credible by a CAS judge.

Her appeal will be held in front of a trio of CAS judges on June 28-29, about a week after the Olympic trials conclude. Her ban was due to conclude just weeks later and she is already back in training with her coach Dean Boxall at the decorated St Peters Western club in Brisbane.

Jack’s case caused some legal issues for WADA, who appealed partly to stop a precedent that would give more scope to athletes trying to reduce bans for unintentional doping, even if they can’t prove how the drugs came to enter their system.

The matter of athletes testing positive to minuscule amounts of banned substances but being hit with the same bans as serial or serious intentional dopers has become a highly contentious matter in international anti-doping circles.

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