Unfair, Innocent, Flamed: Examining How the Chinese Public Perceived Sun Yang’s 8-Year Doping Sanction

in International Journal of Sport Communication

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Bo LiDepartment of Sport Leadership and Management, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA

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Olan K.M. ScottDepartment of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada

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Stirling SharpeDepartment of Sport Management, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia

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Qian ZhongSchool of Journalism & Communication, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

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International sport has always been associated with nationalism. The purpose of the study was to explore how Chinese media and the general public perceived the doping scandal of their national sports hero, Sun Yang. Through analyzing 11 Chinese media outlets’ coverage on Chinese social media Weibo, the results revealed that Chinese media covered Sun and his team’s reaction and perspectives on this issue more when compared with other news. The general public’s perceptions toward this scandal tended to be favorable toward Sun, with 55.5% of selected Weibo comments defending Sun after his 8-year ban for doping was handed down. The analysis of these social media comments posted by sports fans showed that the general public’s perceptions might have been impacted by their nationalism, international relations, and media coverage. In addition, the study revealed the Chinese public’s perceptions toward current antidoping regulations.

Zhong (Zhongqian2020@sina.com) is corresponding author.

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