SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China’s world and Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang on Thursday won his first race at a major meet since it was revealed he secretly served a doping ban last year.
Sun easily won the 400 meters freestyle final at the Chinese national championships in Baoji. His winning time of three minutes 44.53 seconds was well outside his personal best but still third fastest in the world this year.
Sun, whose best event is 1500m freestyle, is sure to be among the favorites for this year’s world championships, to be held in Kazan, Russia in August.
Sun tested positive for the banned stimulant trimetazidine during last year’s Chinese national championships and was given a three month ban.
But the details about the test and the ban were not revealed by the Chinese Swimming Association until much later in the year, by which time he had served the suspension and competed at the Asian Games.
Chinese officials could have imposed a much longer ban but said they opted for a short suspension because they believed Sun had made an innocent mistake and never intended to cheat.
Cao Yue (4:05.86) won the women’s 400m freestyle on the first night of the championships, which are doubling as China’s trials for the world titles in August.
Earlier, Kosuke Hagino, last season’s male swimmer of the season, claimed his second title at the Japanese national championships.
Hagino won the 200 meters freestyle in a time of one minute 45.82 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year, and putting him among the favorites for Kazan.
Hagino already won the 400m freestyle final on Tuesday and is the fastest qualifier for Friday’s 200m individual medley final with his best event, the 400m individual medley, still to come.
Kanako Watanabe, the short-course world champion for the 200m breaststroke, won the 100m final in impressive fashion. Her winning time of 1:06.45 was the third fastest in the world this year.
Chihiro Igarashi (1:58.12) won the women’s 200m freestyle, ahead of Sachi Mochida and Rikako Ikee, who qualified for the world championships at age 14.
Junya Koga (24.75) won the men’s 50m backstroke while Sayaka Akase (1:00.83) took the women’s 100m backstroke.
Writing by Julian Linden in Singapore; Editing by Toby Davis