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Rio 2016 Court of Arbitration for Sport



The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is an arbitral court set up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), based in Lausanne – Switzerland.  Its aim is to resolve issues directly or indirectly related to sport (cases between clubs, athletes and federations or others related).  The CAS was established in 1984, in response to the need for a forum to solve the world sporting conflicts and due to the benefits related to the creation of a proper court to deal with these specific subjects.  Initially it was subordinate to the IOC, who funded its expenses and appointed its arbitrators.


In 1992, after a decision was referred to the Supreme Court of Switzerland, the CAS was recognised as a true arbitral tribunal.  However, it was recommended that it should have greater independence from the IOC, both in its organisation and funding.  This led to the creation of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS)[1], which currently manages and finances the court.  


The CAS has an Ordinary Arbitration Division and an Appeals Arbitration Division.  The first resolves disputes submitted by the ordinary procedure and consists of a panel of 3 (three) arbitrators selected by the parties.  The second, resolves disputes concerning the decisions of federations, associations, committees and other sports entities and also consists of a panel of 3 (three) arbitrators selected by the parties.  


Ad hoc division


The CAS is most evident especially during the Olympic Games due to the short time of the competition that requires a speed in the judgment of disciplinary offenses and other cases - a speed which could not be offered by an arbitral tribunal based in Lausanne.  So for every Olympiad, the IOC establishes a specific ad hoc tribunal linked to the CAS.  


The Olympic Charter states at Chapter 6, rule number 61,[2] that the resolution of conflicts at or in relation to the Olympic Games shall be submitted exclusively to the CAS.  The link of the ad hoc tribunal, which will act specifically during the Olympics, with the seat of the CAS in Lausanne, is essential, as otherwise the IOC should be subject to legislation in the country that holds the competition.


There is a specific code of CAS rules for ad hoc tribunals set up for the Olympic Games (Arbitration Rules for the Olympic Games[3]) and the first ad hoc court was established in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.  The Olympic Charter was introduced an ad hoc tribunal in the Rio 2016 Games, to ensure promptness in resolving conflicts that arise during the course of the competition.  Participants and sports entities will have free access to the court and will be able to submit a case by simply presenting a petition.  The president is responsible for designating the 3 (three) arbitrators and the determining the date of the hearing.  


During the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (Russia) - 2014, even before the competitions began, the court had received two cases.  First, the Austrian skier Daniela Bauer (ski halfpipe) against the Austrian Ski Federation and the Austrian Olympic Committee to be included in the country's team - which was rejected[4].  Secondly, the Argentine skiers Clyde Getty (freestyle) against the International Ski Federation (FIS), which was also rejected[5].


In the Rio 2016 Games, it has not been different.  The doping scandal in the Russian committee and the decision published by the IOC Executive Board (EB) on 24 July 2016[6] decided each International Federation is responsible in determining whether or not the individual Russian athlete is eligible to compete.   According to a media release published by CAS On 1 August 2016 “The ad hoc Division (…) at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 has already registered 11 proceedings since its opening on 26 July 2016.  In seven days of activity, the CAS ad hoc Division has registered the same number of applications as for the total period of the 2012 Olympic Games”[7].


In the first case presented, for example, the Russian swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev have each filed a request for arbitration against the IOC[8] and the International Swimming Federation (FINA), requesting CAS to declare the decision of the IOC Executive Board of 24 July 2016 (paragraph 2) invalid and unenforceable.  The cases already presented are being analised by the panels along this week and the final decisions cases will be announced by media release at the CAS website: http://www.tas-cas.org/en/index.html


The presence of the ad hoc tribunal is therefore of paramount importance during the Rio 2016 Games, since it answers the real need for fast decisions in conflicts in competitions, disciplinary matters and even in challenges to results.  It is important that those involved have their rights guaranteed.


[1] COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT, Statutes of ICAS and CAS, available at http://www.tas-cas.org/en/icas/code-statutes-of-icas-and-cas.html last accessed at July 31 2016.


[2] INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE, Olympic Charter, available at https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/olympic_charter_en.pdf last accessed at July 31 2016.


[3] COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT, Arbitration Rules applicable to the CAS ad hoc division for the Olympic Games, available at http://www.tas-cas.org/en/arbitration/ad-hoc-division.html last accessed at July 31 2016.


[4] COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT, Media Release, available at http://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Media20Release20Sochi202.pdf last accessed at July 31 2016.


[5] COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT, Media Release, available at http://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/CAS20Media20Release20Sochi203.pdf last accessed at July 31 2016.


[6] INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMITTEE, Decision Of The IOC Executive Board concerning the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, available at https://www.olympic.org/news/decision-of-the-ioc-executive-board-concerning-the-participation-of-russian-athletes-in-the-olympic-games-rio-2016 last accessed at July 31 2016.


[7] COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT, Media Release, available at http://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Media_Release__English__010816.pdf last accessed at August 4 2016.


[8]COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT, Media Release, available at http://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Media_Release__English__1.pdf last accessed at July 31 2016.




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