Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has stepped out of the spotlight ahead of his hearing over anti-doping violations.
It comes as the Chinese team went into military training camp for the first time since 2006 following a worse than expected World Championships in Gwangju in July.
China won just three gold medals at the competition, behind the USA with 14, Australia (5) and Hungary (4), while sitting level with Russia, Italy and Great Britain.
In fairness, Sun won two of the three gold medals for China, taking out the 200m and 400m freestyle results, which saw Aussie Mack Horton and UK swimmer Duncan Scott refuse to stand with the Chinese world champ.
The South China Morning Post reported fans have been questioning Sun’s absence from the training camp as the captain of the team.
Chinese team manager Cheng Hao said Sun needed to rest after his world championships effort and would rejoin the team “when his body has fully recovered and military camp becomes part of their regular training”.
Backstroker Fu Yuanhui said the training would steel the team and help the swimmers develop resilience.
She was accused of watching too much TV.
“I am enduring some difficult times in my career, but I have learned at training camp that I must keep trying, trying to make a breakthrough and never give up when encountering problems,” she wrote on Weibo.
It’s in stark contrast to the Australian athletes who were living it up after the World Championships with several heading to Bali to unwind earlier this month before a busy Olympic season.
Sun spoke earlier in the week, calling the speculation surrounding his Court of Arbitration for “intolerable”.
The 27-year-old’s career is in jeopardy after he was accused of smashing a blood vial with a hammer during an out-of-competition dope test last year.
FINA agreed with Sun that testers failed to produce adequate identification or follow protocol, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) responded by taking the case to CAS.
“Misguided public opinion has distorted the facts,” Sun wrote on social media.
“My training and my personal life have been greatly disturbed by this and it’s become intolerable.”
It comes after Sun asked for a rare public trial in order to try to clear his name.
Sun served a three-month doping suspension in 2014 for taking the stimulant trimetazidine, which was banned months before the failed test, he said he took it to treat a heart condition.
Writing on the Twitter-like Weibo, Sun said that he was looking forward to giving his account of what happened during the now-infamous doping test.
“This is my 21st year as a professional athlete and I have given it all to my beloved career as I also have to fight with injuries,” said Sun on his Weibo social media account on Tuesday.
“Over the years I was tested several hundred times and have followed the required procedures by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) … at last year’s testing, I queried the qualification of the three testers and immediately contacted the team management, team doctor and the Zhejiang anti-doping agency.
“All I did was under the supervision of them but people chose to twist the facts that both my life and training were affected. I know the truth but cannot make it public. Fortunately there was the CCTV that has recorded everything or I don’t know [how] to defend against these accusations …”
A CAS hearing was originally scheduled for September, but is now unlikely to be before the end of October, CAS said earlier this month.
— with AFP