Beijing: China`s controversial Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang will probably compete in four events at the world championships starting in Russia this week, a report said Monday, a year after a secret three-month doping ban.
Sun, a triple gold medallist at the 2013 Barcelona worlds, is expected to line up in the 200-metre, 400-metre, 800-metre and 1,500-metre freestyle at the Kazan World Championships, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Despite being a national sporting hero, Sun has had several brushes with authority and earned a wild reputation.
China belatedly revealed in November that Sun served a three-month doping ban before last year`s Asian Games.
The 1,500 metres world record-holder won three gold medals in Incheon in September after serving the previously unannounced ban. The failure was blamed on medicine for heart palpitations.
The 23-year-old was also banned from swimming for six months and briefly jailed for driving without a licence in 2013, which was discovered after his Porsche was hit by a bus.
He had a public falling out with his former coach Zhu Zhigen who said that a relationship with an air hostess was distracting him from swimming.
But the focus was back on sport Monday, with Sun telling Xinhua that he was inspired by US legend Michael Phelps.
"When I was little, I watched Michael Phelps compete in five or six events at a worlds, so I want to try it as well," he was quoted as saying.
Sun`s coach Zhang Yadong believes the 1,500-metre world record holder is "almost back to his peak", according to the news agency.
France`s Olympic and world 200m freestyle gold winner Yannick Agnel and Asian champion Kosuke Hagino have pulled out of the world championships due to injuries while South Korea`s Park Tae-Hwan has been ruled out by a doping ban, improving Sun`s chances.
China is sending a 51-athlete squad to the event, Xinhua said.
On the women`s side it is led by Olympic champion Ye Shiwen, but reigning 200m butterfly world champion Liu Zige failed to make the cut on poor form, while Jiao Liuyang, who won the same race at London 2012, was ruled out by stomach illness.