Sport Chinese media's extraordinary claim in Sun hearing
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When Australian gold medallist Mack Horton famously refused to share a podium with archrival Sun Yang at the World Swimming Championships in July no one could have foreseen the series of events the 23-year-old set in motion.
The one-time Chinese drug cheat had always cut a polarising figure in world sport, and when Horton staged his controversial protest it ignited a cultural-political powder keg.
The vitriol spilled into the public arena. Horton was targeted by Chinese state media and vilified on social media, while on the side of the gulf Sun was chastised as a "drug cheat" and a "disgrace" to the sport.
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Peeling back the hysteria, the issue pivoted on one point of contention, Sun's failure to provide a sample to anti-doping agents in 2018 when he smashed vials of his blood with a hammer upon their arrival to his home.
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The crux of the issue has hinged on the Court of Arbitrations for Sport's findings of what happened that day, with the verdict to finally end the accusations.
But reaching a finding has proven problematic with Sun's hearing becoming bogged in translation issues and communication breakdown.
Now the latest curveball in the saga has reportedly been uncovered by Chinese state mediawho claim one of the individuals who visited Sun to collect his blood sample was actually a construction worker rather than an anti-doping official.
The Xinhua News Agency, which is China's official state-run press agency reports the builder attended Sun's residence in Hangzhou because he was friends with one of the doping control officers on site.
Sun maintained in a mammoth 10-hour hearing session over the weekend that the inspectors drawing samples failed to provide proper identification papers, which led to his mother ordering their security guard to smash the vials of blood to prevent it being taken and tested.
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Sun claimed the action was within his right because he had doubts over the legitimacy of the testers.
Xinhua quoted an unnamed person had come forward claiming he was the construction worker at the scene and that he was not taken up on his offer to testify.
"I agreed to give my words at a video conference before the public hearing as they requested. I was ready, but no one had ever contacted me about this," he said.
"I am a builder and I am always busy at work, day and night. No one ever trained me about the doping test, and it is unnecessary for me to undertake such training."
A WADA expert disputed Sun's account, saying the inspectors' credentials were in order.
A tribunal appointed by swimming world body FINA gave Sun only a caution in January, but the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed the case to CAS. Its judges are not expected to give a verdict from Friday's 12-hour hearing until next year and if the ruling goes against him, Sun could be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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