Sun Yang's hopes of competing at the Tokyo Games are over after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced his ban for doping violations to four years from eight.
Sun, who won two gold medals in 2012 and one more in 2016, was given the initial eight-year ban last year after refusing to let anti-doping officials leave his home in 2019 with vials of his blood.
It was reported that Yang confronted the officials before a member of his entourage smashed a container that contained the vials of the swimmer’s blood.
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The eight-year ban was overturned by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court "on the grounds of bias" as it was argued that the head of the CAS panel made public comments that expressed anti-Chinese sentiments.
However, CAS appointed new judges and Yang has now been found to have "acted recklessly" during the 2019 incident.
He has been banned until February 2024 and would be eligible for the Paris Olympics that year.
The decision was welcomed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
WADA director general Olivier Niggli said: “The decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal to set aside the CAS award was limited to a challenge made against the Chair of the CAS Panel and had nothing to do with the substance of this case.
“Today’s ruling reconfirms WADA’s position in relation to the original FINA ruling, which was that there were a number of points that were inconsistent with the Code. Today’s CAS ruling validates those concerns.”