Sun Yang, the first Chinese man to win a Olympic gold medal in swimming, is free to return to international competition—for now. A federal court in Switzerland on Wednesday threw out Sun's eight-year doping ban, which was imposed in February, agreeing that the neutrality of one of the people who imposed the penalty was compromised. Sun's lawyers had argued that a member of the three-person panel had posted racist comments about China on social media, the New York Times reports. But the court didn't make any decision on the case itself, so it can be taken to another panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The World Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday that it indeed will bring the case back. "WADA will take steps to present its case robustly again when the matter returns to the CAS panel, which will be chaired by a different president," the agency said.
Sun, 29, has battled with WADA to remain eligible for years, insisting he's innocent of cheating allegations, per CNN, and often attacking testers. China suspended its star for three months in 2014 after he took a stimulant, trimetazidine, that he said was for a heart condition. An Australian swimmer called Sun a drug cheat at the 2016 Games and wouldn't take the podium with him at the 2019 world championships, which other swimmers supported. Sun has said he'll prove his innocence, but should he lose again, he'll only be able to appeal on procedural grounds. His popularity in China is intact, and fans expressed their anger at the ban in February on social media, often casting it as an anti-Chinese decision. (Read more sports doping stories.)