Sun Yang CAS hearing blunders exposed by legal expert Jeffrey Benz

Disgraced Chinese swimmer Sun Yangs defence strategy during his public Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing has been savaged as a trainwreck from day one. Esteemed American sports lawyer Jeffrey Benz has torched Sun and his legal team for a series of blunders that left the 28-year-old exposed to the full wrath of the international sports court.
With mystery still surrounding Sun’s reported Swiss Federal Tribunal challenge of the eight-year ban handed down by CAS in February, Benz has exposed the blatant errors made by Sun and his representatives.
Sun has made no public statement since the CAS verdict saw him whacked with the heaviest penalty in the CAS arsenal — but is rumoured to have returned to training with the Chinese Swim Team.
His return to training comes despite the deadline for his challenge in the Swiss high court passing without any word from Sun or Chinese swimming.
Now Benz, a CAS arbitrator, has provided a stunning assessment of why it all went so wrong for China’s first ever male Olympic champion in swimming.
Benz says he considers Sun’s performance during the CAS hearing in Switzerland to have been a “one out of 10”.
“Unfortunately, I can’t go lower than a zero, but I’d have to give them a one,” he said.
Speaking in a video conference panel on the video channel of The Beijing News, Benz said Sun’s decision to request a public hearing backfired when his dirty laundry was aired in front of the sporting world.
“Having been in plenty of hearings, it always tends to look like making sausages and making sausages is not a pretty process to watch,” Benz said, according to the South China Morning Post.
It continued to go from bad to worse for Sun.
Early days of the hearing were derailed when interpreters supplied and chosen by Sun were responsible for several timely communication breakdowns.
After a wasted morning where Sun was accused of being deliberately evasive to questions, the interpreters were replaced by World Anti-Doping Agency staff.
Benz suggested the move from Sun also backfired because it planted a seed that suspected him of deliberately trying to derail the entire hearing.
The American sports lawyer said Sun’s biggest mistake was falling into a trap of providing inconsistent testimony. Sun’s representatives moved to defend his actions as reasonable considering he is someone who is deeply concerned for his safety.
The argument was that it was reasonable for Sun’s mother to direct agents to smash a box containing a vial of his blood with a hammer during a late-night drug-test because he was concerned for his safety when the testers had their credentials questioned.
However, that public portrayal of Sun was discredited when the swimmer boldly called a random person in the courtroom to step-in as his interpreter and to sit next to him later in the trial.
Benz described the move as “wild and crazy”.
“Here is an athlete who says I am so worried for my own security, who is this person taking pictures of me while they’re collecting urine and blood,” he said.
“Yet they had security at the venue of some kind, and he calls this guy up from the audience and says, ‘Hey, sit down here next to me and be my voice’ without any appreciation of the rules. It was strange.
“The panel called this out in its decision in paragraph 358 of the award.
“So the panel saying he showed even at the hearing he has no respect for the rules, and then they go on and say, ‘The athlete is a world-class athlete with an impressive list of sporting achievements, he is not however above the law or legal process. The rules apply to him as they do to all athletes and he is required to comply with them.’ That sums up the whole case right there. That is it.”
Benz said Sun’s refusal to show any remorse or any sign of recognition of wrongdoing during his final statement to the court was the final nail in his coffin.
He says Sun appeared an “inhuman” robot without any emotion surrounding his actions.
“I have never seen an athlete, actually, go that badly for them,” he said.
“The panels never actually note in the award anything bad in the closing statements, but this one was so outrageous in terms of what he chose to do, and this just shows he has no respect for anything. He has no respect for the rules of sport, or the tribunal or anything. He just does what he wants.”
The CAS statement of its findings confirmed Benz’s argument.
“It was striking that, in the course of his testimony, at no point did the athlete express any regret as to his actions, or indicate that, with the benefit of hindsight, it might have been preferable for him to have acted differently,” the CAS decision said in February.
“Rather, as the proceedings unfolded, he dug his heels in and, eventually, sought to blame others for the manifest failings that occurred. At no point … did he confront the possibility that he might have overreacted in his actions.”