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."  []

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."  [].

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