Three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang of China has been banned for eight years for missing a doping test in September 2018. The swimmer has denied any wrongdoing calling the decision ‘unfair’ Also Read - Badminton | PV Sindhu Needs to Give More Attention to Recovery Between Matches to Win Medal at Tokyo Olympics: Vimal Kumar

“This is unfair. I firmly believe in my innocence,” Sun said after the ruling by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). Also Read - Tokyo Olympics 2021: Deepika Kumari, Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai in Indian Recurve Archery Squad

The eight-year ban has been imposed because this was Sun’s second doping-related offence after having earlier served a three-month suspension in 2014 for taking Trimetazidine, a prohibited substance. Also Read - Wrestling: Vinesh Phogat Wins Gold, Reclaims Number One Rank; Bajrang Punia Books Final Berth

International swimming federation (FINA) had initially ruled in favour of Sun, clearing him of any offence. However, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed for the decision to be overturned at CAS which was subsequently done.

“The athlete failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance with the ISTI (international standard for testing and investigations),” CAS said.

“As the Cas panel noted, it is one thing, having provided a blood sample, to question the accreditation of the testing personnel while keeping the intact samples in the possession of the testing authorities; it is quite another thing, after lengthy exchanges and warnings as to the consequences, to act in such a way that results in destroying the sample containers, thereby eliminating any chance of testing the sample at a later stage.”

Sun had said last year that the failure of the officials to establish their credentials resulted in him missing the test after they arrived at his home. He has also denied breaking a vial containing his blood samples with a hammer.

The decision by the CAS can be challenged within 30 days.

The controversial star is the first Chinese to ever win an Olympic medal in swimming. He is a three-time Olympic gold medallist and 11-time world champion.