Off-Side: Additional Penalties for Doping Infractions Struck Down

We have confirmation... for a second time the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has struck down additional penalties for doping infractions that fall outside the WADA Code. The decision was rendered on Monday, April 30th 2012.

Even though the WADA Code prohibits penalties beyond those specified in the Code itself, a number of sport organizations, operating under the WADA Code, do impose such penalties. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was one of those organizations. It had a rule prohibiting athletes who had been sanctioned for more than 6 months by any anti-doping organization, from participating in the next edition of the Olympic Games.  CAS found that this IOC rule went beyond what was allowed by the WADA Code and struck it down. We a wrote about that decision back in October, 2011.

The British Olympic Committee (BOC) had the same rule as the IOC and was ardent in wishing to maintain it, particularly leading into the 2012 summer Olympic Games. The matter went to CAS, which again found the additional rule went beyond the provisions of the WADA Code and struck it down. This means that two British athletes, David Miller and Dwain Chambers, who have both been subject to sanctions for doping, are now eligible for selection to the British Olympic Team.

The Arbitration Panel noted that further penalties can be assessed, but only through changes to the WADA Code. This might promote some movement towards extending sanctions, perhaps to a four-year or even lifetime ban in such cases. Ross Tucker at the The Science of Sport blog wrote that the harsher the punishment, the more vigilant the legal oversight, and from a broader perspective he questions whether the new techniques in the arsenal of anti-doping can withstand the added scrutiny - both legally and financially.

A number of Canadian sport organizations have either a rule similar to the IOC and BOC rule or have other rules that impose some further penalty in doping cases. While it is always important to look at the individual circumstances of each rule, CAS has been very clear through both these decisions that for those sport organizations requiring compliance with the WADA Code, such additional sanctions are not acceptable.

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