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Armstrong lawyer joins fight to end Sun’s career

THE World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has dramatically raised the stakes in its legal stoush with Sun Yang by hiring the gun sports lawyer who helped bring down Lance Armstrong and requesting that the short-fused Chinese swimmer be banned for up to eight years.

At the very minimum, WADA wants Sun kicked out of the sport for at least two years, which would effectively end his controversial career in shame because it would mean missing next year's Tokyo Olympics and the 2021 World Championships.

Facing intense criticism of its handling of the ongoing Russian doping crisis, and the threat of mutiny from disgruntled swimmers who are fed-up with Sun's boorish ­behaviour, WADA is leaving nothing to chance in going after the biggest fish in world swimming.

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US-based sports lawyer Richard Young will be WADA's lead counsel at Friday's hearing in Switzerland. Young helped draft the original WADA Code and was instrumental in catching some of the highest-profile drug cheats in world sport, ­including Armstrong, Marion Jones and Floyd Landis.

The American also assisted the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in the supplement cases involving the Cronulla Sharks and Essendon Bombers.

Now Young is at the centre of what looms as another of the biggest sports doping cases in history after Sun escaped a ban for ordering the smashing of his blood samples with a hammer last year before they could be tested for performance-enhancing drugs.

Sun Yang's case has caused plenty of waves.
Sun Yang's case has caused plenty of waves.

WADA's appeal against Sun's let-off will be heard by the Court of Arbitration (CAS) at a plush hotel in Montreux, on the banks of Lake Geneva, from Friday night (Australian time).

For just the second time in CAS history, the hearing will be open to the public, streamlined live around the world and witnessed first hand by a small selection of international media organisations, including The Daily Telegraph.

While a decision is not expected to be made for weeks, possibly months, athletes, sporting bodies, governments and doping agencies will be anxiously following the proceedings because of the enormous repercussions the verdict will have.

As the most famous and successful sportsmen in the world's most populated country, a guilty verdict against Sun will almost certainly trigger a furious response from China.

Australians Mack Horton and Andrew Bogut have been subjected to death threats from his fanatical followers after speaking out against the hot-tempered swimmer at this year's World Championships in South Korea.

Lance Armstrong ‘won’ seven TdF titles.
Lance Armstrong ‘won’ seven TdF titles.

If Sun is cleared, the case will raise serious questions about the way anti-doping authorities carry out their out-of-competition drug testing, raising the possibility that other elite athletes could challenge the procedures that have been in place for years.

There is no question that Sun's entourage destroyed his collected blood samples at an out-of-competition test at his home in China last year.

Swimming's world governing body FINA charged him with two anti-doping offences relating to tampering and ­refusing to provide samples, finding that he had committed a serious violation "beyond any doubt".

Sun would normally incur a lengthy suspension, particularly given that he previously served a three-month ban for doping in 2014.

US-based sports lawyer Richard Young helped convict Marion Jones. Picture: AP
US-based sports lawyer Richard Young helped convict Marion Jones. Picture: AP

But he escaped punishment after his lawyers argued the independent drug testers were not properly authorised to carry out the procedures and the doping panel, appointed by FINA, agreed, though it issued him with a serious warning and said the verdict was a "close-run thing".

The case hinged on a letter of authority the drug testers presented to Sun when they met him at his home.

The International Doping Tests and Management, which provided the letter, said the document covered the group of testers, but Sun's lawyers argued each individual tester should have had separate letters.

WADA disputes that ruling and Sun's argument that the nurse who collected his blood was not authorised to take the sample and he was never told that smashing the samples would constitute a violation