LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne Thursday 6 October announced a decision that could have far-reaching implications for the sports world, saying it has overturned an IOC (International Olympic Committee) ban on athletes found guilty of doping.
The immediate result of the decision, which follows an appeal against a Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) decision by US athlete LaShawn Merritt and the US Olympic Committee, is to allow Merritt to defend his 400-metre title in the London 2012 Olympics.
The IOC has banned athletes with suspensions of more than six months for doping from taking part in the next Olympic Games. Merritt was sentenced to two years, later reduced by three months, in early 2010 for failing tests for a banned steroid.
The IOC had argued that its rule was an attempt to take a tough stance on doping, but the CAS ruling notes that “”The IOC Executive Board’s June 27, 2008 decision prohibiting athletes who have been suspended for more than six months for an anti-doping rule violation from participating in the next Olympic Games following the expiration of their suspension is invalid and unenforceable.”
The CAS says in its statement that “The CAS Panel also emphasized that if the IOC wanted to exclude athletes who have been sanctioned for doping from the Olympic Games, it could propose an amendment to the World Anti-Doping Code, which would allow other Signatories to consider such an amendment and possibly to adopt it.” Such a move would allow the principle of proportionality to be met, according to the CAS, because “only one adjudicatory body would be in position to assess the proper sanction for a behaviour”.