BOA v WADA: CAS to announse its reasoned decision today

British Media have been reporting that BOA have lost their appeal against WADA. At 15:00, UK time, today we will know whether this is true or not. Whatever the result, it shall be extremely interesting to read CAS' reasoned decision, which I am pretty certain it would centre around two issues: 1) Eligibility and 2) Participation.

I am sure most of you would remember the numerous arguments we produced when Katerina Thanou was illegally stopped from participating in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Although Katerina never served a ban [an out of court settlement at CAS and acquittal by the Greek criminal courts] , the arguments produced by the IOC at the time were very similar to the ones submitted by the BOA at CAS in the present appeal. Katerina decided not to pursue a law suit against the IOC at the time, but our arguments remain valid. 

It was also interesting to see the different politics that operated behind the final legal advice given to, both, the BOA and WADA. WADA would not pursue sports lawyers who have been involved in similar cases and they were adverse to WADA [including the undersigned] and BOA would not listen to sports lawyers who told them that their bye-law has severe flaws and it would, highly likely, fail. Instead, the latter spent, I am told, a six-figure amount on legal advice that could have been given to them by my sports law students!

BOA's high stand on totalitarian moralism is, with respect, flawed. It fails to take into consideration the balance required between the rights of the individual athlete and those of the sport. I can cite several examples as to how sporting governing bodies violate the rights of individual athletes on a weekly basis, as I could cite a lot more examples as to how athletes beat the system. Whatever your conclusion is, there is one prevailing view and that is the transparent and equal application of the law on all offenders.

You may feel that those who have served a ban already do not deserve to participate in the Olympics ever again. But make no mistake: the Olympics are not clean and those who govern and supervise the Olympics need to take the test first. Until then, they must respect their rules and the application of the law.

Unfortunately, we cannot see what exists in an athlete's mind. That's why we measure what comes out in his urine. The inability of the sporting governing bodies to detect all performance enhancing substances, cannot be used as an excuse to seriously violate important rights. The sporting exception cannot be cited as a justification for taking away from athletes a right given to them by the Olympic Charter: the right to Equal Treatment. It is time that this misconceived attitude against an athlete of being 'presumed guilty' disappeared from the sporting community. 

Those unable to respect the law can no longer speak of morality and they must, for ever, hold their peace...

Dr Gregory Ioannidis

30 April 2012


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