An Australian swimming coach who has guided Sun Yang‘s career says the controversial Chinese athlete is clean as a whistle and doesn’t deserve accusations of being a serial drug cheat.

Speaking to The Australian, Denis Cotterell said Sun should be allowed to compete at the sport’s highest level without facing protests from the likes of Australia’s Mack Horton and Briton Duncan Scott.

“I’m at a loss. He’s been cleared,” Cotterell told the paper.

The coach even said it is “hypocritical” for members of the Australian team to lay the accusation.

“I have been on teams where people have failed a drug test, accidentally and through no fault of their own,” Cotterell said.

“I would never call them cheats.”

Cotterell, who served as a mentor to the Australian team for yonks, said the protests stem from some faulty intel on the realities of Sun’s 2014 ban and a 2018 incident during a random blood test.

Here’s the situation: Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 after he was found to have taken trimetazidine, which had recently been placed on a list of banned substances by swimming authorities. Despite the ban, the Chinese Swimming Federation agreed Sun had taken the drug for a genuine heart condition.

That explanation didn’t placate Horton, who famously called Sun a “drug cheat” at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Then, in September last year, Sun and his entourage smashed a container of his blood samples after arguing the folks who came to do the test didn’t adequately identify themselves as International Doping Tests Management personnel.

FINA, the swimming world’s international governing body, ruled in Sun’s favour over that incident – but the World Anti-Doping Agency has pushed for the matter to be appealed this September in the Court of Arbitration of Sport.

Horton, Scott, and scores of other pro swimmers don’t believe Sun should be allowed to compete due to the pending appeal. Cotterell says his 27-year-old protege should be free to do whatever the hell he wants.

“If things aren’t right are you just going to give up your blood to strangers who don’t have credentials?” Cotterell asked.

Don’t expect this stoush to calm down any time soon.

Source: The Australian
Image: Mark J. Terrill / AP Images