WADA v. Sun Yang & FINA: Reflections of a Chinese lawyer & lessons for sports in China

WADA v. Sun Yang & FINA: Reflections of a Chinese lawyer & lessons for sports in China
Friday, 02 October 2020 By Guo Cai

This article examines the Sun Yang case from the personal perspective of the Author, a Chinese lawyer based in Beijing who made her way to Montreux, Switzerland and attended the 9-hour Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in person.  It offers the Author’s analysis of how the case unfolded, the conduct of the hearing, and most importantly, the lessons that can be learned for athletes, sports regulators, lawyers, and anyone caring about sports in China.  Specifically, it examines:

  • The reasons why Sun Yang lost his case at CAS
  • The factors that contributed to the eight-year ban
    • Conduct at the proceeding
    • Implausible case theories and lack of sincerity
    • The difficulties of a public forum
  • Could Sun Yang have argued his case differently?
  • Main lessons
    • Education for Chinese athletes and support staff
    • The win at all costs mentality and learning to deal with disputes
    • Constructive proposals for Chinese sports
  • Concluding remarks

For readers wanting a detailed review of the background, legal arguments and decision in the case, please refer to the LawInSport article[1] by Prof Jack Anderson.

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Guo Cai

Guo Cai

Ms. Guo Cai oversees the International Law and Sports Business practice, Jin Mao Law Firm, the first Chinese law firm to establish a practice dedicated to the sports industry. Ms. Cai graduated from Harvard Law School and China University of Political Science and Law. She also held an LLM in Human Rights (distinction) from the University of Hong Kong. Admitted to practice in China and the US (New York), Ms. Cai specializes in international dispute resolution and sports law, with the aspiration to grow with the Chinese sports industry and connect international best practice with sports in China.

Ms. Cai’s involvement in sport dated back to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, for which she served as a professional volunteer. The case of IOC v. Xinyi Chen in the 2016 Rio Olympics motivated her to specialize in the sports sectors so as to make quality legal services available to Chinese athletes where needed. Ms Cai has successfully represented sportspersons, national and international sports associations in disputes at both domestic and international level, with particular strengths in new, unsettled areas. In 2020, Ms. Guo Cai contributes to the debut of Annual Review on Sports Dispute Resolution in China (2020) published by the Beijing Arbitration Commission, the first time that sports has been broken out from entertainment for separate discussion. She is the co-author of this inaugural volume.

蔡果律师执业于上海市金茂律师事务所,是中国市场稀缺的、专注国际法与体育产业的涉外法律人才,致力结合国际最佳标准,与中国体育产业共同成长。她毕业于哈佛法学院和中国政法大学,并以第一名获得香港大学人权法硕士学位。负笈哈佛时,她专攻宪法,创造性地将仲裁、宪政分析专长与对体育的热爱相结合,独辟蹊径地开创了体育争议解决职业道路。 蔡律师深度参与体育产业可追溯自2008年为北京奥运会担任专业志愿者;2016年里约奥运会期间的国际奥委会诉陈欣怡一案促使她投身体育法律,以在中国运动员需要时,有中国律师具备能力提供对标国际的专业法律服务。迄今,蔡律师在国际国内层面的争议解决程序中成功代理了体育专业人士、国际及国内体育组织,特别擅长处理新兴、疑难问题。2020年,蔡果律师经遴选,成为北京仲裁委员会首篇《中国体育争议解决年度观察》中英文版撰稿人。


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