POSTED: October 6th 2011

CAS declares the Osaka Rule invalid: Anti-doping takes a step backward

Cas headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland / CAS image
Cas headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland / CAS image

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: The Court of Arbitration For Sport (CAS) ruled today against the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Osaka Rule opening the door for any athlete that has received a doping ban six months or longer to be able to compete at the next edition of the Games.

The three man panel consisting of Prof. Richard H. McLaren (CAN), Mr David W. Rivkin (USA), and Mr. Michele Bernasconi (SUI), concluded that the Osake Rule was more of a disciplinary sanction than condition of eligibility to compete in the Olympic Games.

And that the rule violates the World Anti-doping Code (WADC) in the sense that signatories may not introduce provisions that are not in compliance with the WADC. And in essence those signatories may not issue further ineligibility provisions beyond the sanctions imposed on athletes by the WADC.  

This ruling came as a blow to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and especially its chief, Dr. Jacques Rogge, who has always held a strong stance against doping in sport. Rogge himself, a physician, served on the IOC’s medical commission for years and truly has been a crusader for keeping the competitions doping clean and fair for all.

This change of regulations will allow U.S. 400m winner LaShawn Merritt, who tested positive for a banned substance found in a male-enhancement product and served out his ban, along with a number of other offenders, green light to hit the starting blocks side by side with potentially clean athletes.

How can this be a fair playing field?

The IOC has issued a statement that it “fully respects the CAS decision and will abide by it” however there will probably be a strong argument coming up for the next revision of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

On the other hand, British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Colin Moynihan, held a press conference today in London defending the BOA lifetime rule that athletes found guilty of any doping will not be allowed to compete in any Olympic Games.

He explained that the BOA by-law expressed eligibility and was not a sanction. At least Great Britain is keeping the benchmark high for clean sport. He called the stance “tough but fair” and confirmed that WADA commended the rule as it complied with the global standard.

Moynihan also confirmed that 90 percent of the British athletes were in favor of keeping the life ban on anyone found guilty of doping. Steve Redgrave, five-time Olympic rowing champion also gave his total support to the lifetime ban.

The Olympics are the pinnacle of world sport, and should be about the best of the best, but without any whiff of performance enhancing substances.  

How can an athlete feel if they take a podium behind someone who has served a sanction and has yet been allowed to compete and then medal?

It was a very sad day indeed for the IOC and for elite sport.

Keywords · IOC · CAS · LaShawn Merritt ·

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