August 02, 2016 Practice Points

Court of Arbitration in Sport Denies Russian Appeal of Olympic Ban

By Mark Kantor

On July 21, 2016, the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) Panel announced that it had denied the appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruling that the field and track team is ineligible to participate in the Rio Olympics.  

On November 13, 2015, the IAAF provisionally suspended the All Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) from IAAF membership on grounds of systematic state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field athletics.  The IAAF made that provisional suspension full and indefinite later in November 2015.   

In a request for arbitration filed at the CAS on July 3, 2016, the Russian Olympic Committee and the 68 claimant athletes asked the CAS: (1) to review certain legal issues; and (2) to order that any Russian athlete who was not currently the subject of any period of ineligibility for the commission of an anti-doping rule violation be declared eligible to participate at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio (subject to meeting the qualification standards for his or her event).  

On July 15, 2016, 67 of the same Russian athletes filed an appeal against the IAAF decisions to deny applications from these athletes to compete internationally as "neutral athletes" at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.  

The CAS Panel held a hearing on July 19, 2016. On July 21, 2016, the CAS issued a press release reporting the panel’s decision. The press release states that “[i]n view of the urgency of the matter, the CAS Panel has issued only its decision, which is unanimous, without the grounds.  The full Arbitral Award, including the grounds for the Panel’s decision, will be issued as soon as possible.” 

The International Olympic Committee has been waiting for this ruling before deciding whether to ban the entire Russian Olympic team from participating in the Rio Olympics as recommended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA’s recommendation is largely the result of The McLaren Investigation Report which was published on July 18, 2016.  

Keywords: alternative dispute resolution, adr, litigation, Rio Olympics, ban, Russian athletes, Russia, Court of Arbitration in Sport, International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, McLaren Investigative Report

Mark Kantor is with Member of the College of Commercial Arbitrators in Washington, D.C.

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