Sport holds its breath as D-Day arrives for Sun Yang
The eagerly-awaited verdict in Sun Yang's doping appeal will be announced on Friday night with the hot-headed Chinese swimmer finally about to learn his fate.
The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport will announce the decision at 8pm (EDT).
Whichever way it goes, the decision is going to have massive implications for world sport because it will either devastate Sun's fanatical Chinese followers or everyone else that thinks the authorities aren't doing enough to keep sport clean.
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Legal opinion is divided on what the decision will be even though Sun has admitted destroying his own blood samples at an out-of-competition drug test at his home in China in September, 2018.
That would normally incur a lengthy, automatic ban but he was cleared on a technicality by swimming's international federation, prompting the World Anti-Doping Agency to lodge an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The appeal was heard in public in Switzerland last November with both sides saying they were confident of winning, but the verdict was delayed because of issues with the dodgy Chinese translator Sun's legal team provided.
The verdict was pushed back until late February when lawyers from both sides agreed to a reviewed transcript of the translation, which included Sun's baffling testimony, which WADA's lead lead attorney Richard Young described as "monumentally evasive".
CAS took the rare step of revealing the release date ahead of time because of the enormous interest.
The only recent occasion when CAS provided advance notice of a pending decision was for last year's landmark Caster Semenya case and interest in Sun's hearing is even greater because he has regarded as a national hero in China.
Although he's been on a whirlwind public relations tour that included singing at a New Year's Eve concert and bagging Australian anti-drugs crusader Mack Horton, Sun has been conspicuously silent about his chances of being cleared.
He has continued training in the hope that he will be cleared and allowed to compete at this year's Tokyo Olympics, but knows he faces a career-ending ban of up to eight years if he's found guilty because it'll be his second doping offence.
The verdict hinges on whether the drug testers were authorised to carry out the tests. Sun says they weren't so he was actually standing up for the rights of athletes by not providing a sample.
But other athletes have called his bluff and WADA strongly refuted Sun's claim, saying the rules on out-of-competition tests are clear and the moment he refused to provide a sample "he was nailed."