Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Swimmer Omar Pinzon Completely Exonerated By Court Of Arbitration For Sport, Responds To CAS Decision

Los Angeles (April 8, 2014) – Omar Pinzon’s long fight to clear his name is finally over, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) issuing its final decision exonerating him earlier this week.

Despite the fact that he has never used cocaine, Mr. Pinzon tested positive for cocaine while competing at the Colombian National Games in Cali, Colombia, on November 10, 2012.  Confident that he was innocent, Mr. Pinzon submitted to a polygraph examination, and was found to be truthful that he had not knowingly used cocaine.  When he was suspended by the national swimming federation for Colombia (FECNA) for 2 years, Omar Pinzon appealed to the CAS.

Following a hearing in New York in February 2014, CAS has now issued its final decision, fully exonerating Omar Pinzon.  In its decision, the CAS tribunal noted the following:

-the CAS tribunal did not believe that Omar Pinzon had ever used cocaine;

-the testing laboratory in Colombia had not used the standard test for cocaine, and did not establish that it even followed its own required testing protocols;

-there is no known scientific study that would support the test results reported by the testing laboratory in Colombia;

-the results reported by the testing laboratory in Colombia are virtually impossible in a human urine sample after the ingestion of cocaine, meaning that the test results are inconsistent with biology; and

-the lab result can only be explained by lab error, manipulation of the sample or adulteration of the sample.

In addition, the CAS tribunal ordered that FECNA must pay Omar Pinzon in excess of US $50,000 for the costs of the arbitration and his legal fees.

In responding to the CAS decision, Omar Pinzon stated as follows:

“I am extremely happy with the CAS decision, because it proves what I already knew, which is that I was completely innocent.   The past year has been extremely difficult for me and my family, and I look forward to returning to competition later this month.


Despite this ordeal, I look forward to again representing my country in the near future.”


For more information please contact Howard Jacobs:


Howard L. Jacobs                                          
Law Offices of Howard L. Jacobs                 
2815 Townsgate Road, Suite 200                  
Westlake Village, California 91361                
Tel. 805.418.9892  Cell. 818.422.0508         
Fax. 805.418.9899                                         
howard.jacobs@athleteslawyer.com             

Friday, December 20, 2013

Alix Klineman Receives Reduced Suspension for Inadvertent Use of Banned Supplement, Responds To AAA Decision

Los Angeles (December 20, 2013) – The American Arbitration Association recently issued its decision suspending volleyball player Alix Klinemen from competition from May 22, 2013 through June 9, 2014 for her inadvertent use of a banned supplement, thereby allowing her to return to competition early next summer.

In its decision, the AAA Panel summarized the reasons for its decision as follows:

            “USADA agreed with [Alix Klineman’s] contention that she is not a drug cheat.  [Alix Klineman] is an exceptional, forthright person who unfortunately finds herself caught up in the persistent world-wide efforts to eradicate performance enhancing drugs in sport through the imposition of stringent minimum penalties even where clear and convincing proof exists that an athlete made a small error with no intent to gain a competitive advantage.”

In responding to the AAA decision, Alix Klineman stated as follows:

“This has been a devastating experience for me. It is an understatement to say it is heartbreaking for me to be punished for something I never intended to do. Having accidentally taken a banned substance means that I am placed in the same category as those who meant to cheat to get an unfair advantage. This, of course, was never my intention nor did I ever know that I was taking a banned substance.

Nevertheless, I am pleased that the Arbitration Panel recognizes that I never attempted to gain any competitive advantage nor did I obtain any competitive advantage through my mistake. Further, the panel has stated in their report that they believe that I took reasonable precautions to avoid taking any prohibited substances.

I look forward to returning to competition as soon as possible, and working toward my ultimate goal of representing my country at the 2016 Olympic Games.”

For more information please contact Howard Jacobs:

Howard L. Jacobs                                          
Law Offices of Howard L. Jacobs                 
2815 Townsgate Road, Suite 200                  
Westlake Village, California 91361                
Tel. 805.418.9892  Cell. 818.422.0508         
Fax. 805.418.9899                                         
howard.jacobs@athleteslawyer.com             

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

CAS Hands Down Expected Decision in British Olympic Case, WADA Calls For Sensibility and Continued Harmonization

The Court of Arbitration of Sport decision striking down the British Olympic Association's (BOA) lifetime ban on Olympic participation for athletes who have committed doping offenses was fairly predictable, as the result was foreshadowed (and some would say pre-ordained) by last summer's decision in the U.S. Olympic Committee's challenge to the IOC's "Osaka Rule" [see blog posts below).  In fact, following the decision, the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Director General David Howman, had this to say:

"We gave the BOA a chance to review their opinion after the IOC case. The BOA wasted a lot of time and money and got the inevitable result."  [http://sports.yahoo.com/news/british-olympic-doping-appeal-waste-time-145827457--spt.html]

The BOA has, rather than accepting the decision as one required by law, upped the ante on rhetoric, calling the decision a "hollow victory" for WADA, and calling for much lengthier sanctions.  It would be tempting to fall for this rhetoric, if one believed that those suspended for doping were all "intentional cheaters."  Of course, that is not the case.  It is comforting to see that the anti-doping agencies recognize that there is really no need to overhaul the rules with lengthier sanctions.

In all of the clamor from the BOA for lengthier sanctions for intentional cheaters, they ignore or are simply unaware that those rules already exist.  The WADA Code already provides for a sanction of up to four years for a first offense in the case of "aggravated circumstances."

In addition, the dramatic calls for a lifetime ban for a first offense have been met by WADA with what can only be described as a "reality wake-up call":

"As we go forward we've got to maintain a gentle touch with reality and reality is whatever rules are put in place must be able to sustain a challenge in international law and the appropriate courts, including courts of human rights," [David Howman] explained. "For a first offence, (a four-year ban) [is] totally impossible.

"When you look at lifetime bans they are already in the Code for second, or maybe third offences but for a first offense I would say there would not be one human right lawyer or sport lawyer in the world who would ever suggest that."  [http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/01/uk-olympics-doping-wada-idUKBRE8400QL20120501].

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Dwain Chambers and David Millar will be free to compete for Great Britain at the London Olympics, according to a leading sports lawyer"

Here is an article and part of an interview that I did with the BBC in advance of the March 12 CAS hearing on the validity of the British Olympic Association's "lifetime Olympic ban" for British athletes who have committed doping offenses:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/athletics/17280765