Court of Arbitration Switch Pivotal BOA Drug Ban Hearing to London

January 18, 2012

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have moved the hearing of the case between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and British Olympic Association (BOA) over the BOA’s drug ban bylaw from Switzerland to London according to the Telegraph.

CAS normally holds its hearings at its headquarters in Lausanne but have now scheduled it to be heard in London on March 12 in a an undisclosed location in London.

The reason for the switch of venues is understood to be purely practical because most of the lawyers involved in the case are London-based according to the Telegraph.

The BOA is appealing against a decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to declare it “non-compliant” with the WADA code on the grounds that its lifetime ban amounts to a second punishment over and above the mandatory two-year suspension laid down by the code.

The BOA claims the ban, which is enshrined in a 19-year-old by-law, is a matter of eligibility rather than punishment and that it should be free to set its own selection policy.

Although the switch to London will put the case in the media spotlight, the actual hearing will be held in private, with a decision not expected until April.

WADA will be basing its case on the legal precedent set by a CAS hearing last year involving American Olympic 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt, who successfully challenged a similar Olympic ban brought in by the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC had introduced a new rule banning athletes suspended for doping for six months or more from competing at the next Olympic Games but a CAS panel declared it “invalid and unenforceable”.

Significantly, the March 12 case will be heard by the same three-plan arbitration panel that was involved in the Merritt case – Canadian Richard McLaren, Switzerland’s Michele Bernasconi and American David Rivkin.