Since the release of the earth-shattering
ARD documentary two years ago, the
athletics world has been in a permanent turmoil. The International Athletics
Association Federation (IAAF) is faced with both a never-ending corruption
scandal (playing out in front of the French police authorities) and the related systematic doping of Russian
athletes. The situation escalated in different phases led by the revelations of
Russian insiders. First, in December 2014 with the ARD documentary, which demonstrated
how widespread (and organized) the recourse to doping was in Russian athletics.
It triggered the Pound investigation financed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which led to two
damaging reports (available here and here) for the Russian
anti-doping system and the IAAF itself. Thereafter, in November 2015, the IAAF
had no other choice but to provisionally suspend the Russian athletics
federation (ARAF then RusAF) and its members from IAAF competitions. Yet, this
was only the beginning as shortly after the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping
laboratory provided a
detailed sketch to the New York Times
of the operation of a general state-led doping scheme in Russia. The system was
designed to avert any positive doping tests for top-level Russian sportspeople and
was going way beyond athletics. These allegations were later largely confirmed
and reinforced by the McLaren investigation initiated by WADA in May 2016, and which published its first report in July 2016 shortly before the Rio Olympics. In June 2016, the IAAF anticipated
the conclusions of the report (it had received most of McLaren’s evidence beforehand) and decided to
maintain the ineligibility of Russian athletes for IAAF competitions, and for
the Rio Olympics. It did, however, foresee a narrow exception for Russian
athletes able to show that they were properly tested outside of Russia.
Nonetheless, the athletes using this exception were to compete under a neutral
flag at the Olympics. Unsurprisingly, Russian athletes led by pole superstar
(and now IOC member), Yelena Isinbayeva, and the Russian Olympic Committee
decided to challenge this decision in front of the Court of Arbitration for
Sport (CAS). Interestingly, while the decision was rendered on 21 July 2016, the
full text of the award was publically released only on 10 October 2016. In September,
I analysed the Rio
CAS Ad Hoc Decisions involving Russian athletes aiming to participate to the
Olympics. I will now turn to the IAAF
decision, which is of great importance to the future of the anti-doping system.
Indeed, it lays out the fundamental legal boundaries of the capacity of
international federations to impose sanctions on their members (and their
members) in order to support the world anti-doping fight. More...
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The Russian State Doping Scandal and the
crisis of the World Anti-Doping System
doping and the state of the Anti-Doping System has been the dominant international
sports law story in November and December. This is mainly due to the release of
of the McLaren’s investigation on 9 December 2016. The
outcome of McLaren’s work showed a “well-oiled systemic cheating scheme” that
reached to the highest level of Russian sports and government, involving the striking
figure of 30 sports and more than 1000 athletes in doping practices over four
years and two Olympic Games. The report detailed tampering with samples to swap
out athletes’ dirty urine with clean urine.More...
“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a
tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his
response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t
Tomorrow the Foundation Board
of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will gather in Glasgow for
its most important meeting since the creation of the Agency. Since the
broadcasting of a documentary alleging systematic doping in
Russian athletics by the German public broadcaster in December 2014, the
anti-doping world has been in disarray. The various independent investigations
(the Pound Report and the McLaren Report) ordered by WADA into doping allegations
against Russian athletes have confirmed the findings of the documentary and the
truth of the accusations brought forward by Russian whistle-blowers.
Undeniably, there is something very rotten in the world anti-doping system. The
current system failed to register a widespread, and apparently relatively open,
state-sponsored scheme aimed at manipulating any doping test conducted in
Russian territory. Moreover, it was not WADA that uncovered it, but an
independent journalist supported by courageous whistle-blowers. More...
Editor's note: This is the (belated) fifth part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio. The other acts are available at:
Act V: Saving the
last (Russian) woman standing: The Klishina miracle
Darya Klishina is now an Olympic
celebrity. She will enter the history books not because she won a gold medal or
beat a world record. Instead, her idiosyncrasy lies in her nationality: she was
the sole Russian athlete authorized to stand in the athletics competitions at
the Rio Olympics. And yet, a few days before the start of the long jumping contest
in which she was due to take part, the IAAF surprisingly decided to revoke her eligibility (‘And Then There Were None’). But Klishina
appealed the decision to the CAS ad hoc Division and, as all of you
well-informed sports lawyers will know, she was allowed to compete at the
Olympics and finished at a decent ninth place of the long jump finals.
Two important questions are raised
by this case:
- Why did the IAAF
changed its mind and decide to retract Klishina’s authorization to participate?
- Why did the CAS
overturn this decision? More...
Editor's note: This is the fourth part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.
Act IV: On
Bringing a sport into disrepute
Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: “The IFs will also have to apply their
respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NFs.”
In paragraph 2 of its Decision,
the IOC mentioned the possibility for IFs to “apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire
NF's”.This is exactly what the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) did
when it decided on 29 July 2016 to exclude the whole Russian Weightlifting
Federation (RWF) from the Rio Olympics for having brought the sport into
disrepute. Indeed, Article 12. 4 of the IWF Anti-doping Policy, foresees that:
“If any Member
federation or members or officials thereof, by reason of conduct connected with
or associated with doping or anti-doping rule violations, brings the sport of
weightlifting into disrepute, the IWF Executive Board may, in its discretion,
take such action as it deems fit to protect the reputation and integrity of the
Editor's note: This is the third part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.
Act III: On being
Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: “The IFs should carry out an individual
analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only
reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s
sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.”
Daniil Andienko and 16 other members
of the Russian rowing team challenged the decision of the World Rowing
Federation (FISA) to declare them ineligible for the Rio Olympics. The FISA
Executive Committee took the decision on 24 July 2016 because they had not “undergone a minimum of three anti-doping tests analysed by a WADA accredited laboratory other than the Moscow
laboratory and registered in ADAMS
from 1 January 2015 for an 18 month period”. In
their submissions, the Russian applicants did not challenge the IOC Decision,
and thus the criteria enshrined in paragraph 2, but only its application by
Russian athletes argued that FISA’s decision deviated from the IOC Decision in
that it was imposing as an additional requirement that rowers must “have
undergone a minimum of three anti-doping tests analysed by a WADA accredited
laboratory other than the Moscow laboratory and registered in ADAMS from 1
January 2015 for an 18-month period”. The Panel
acknowledged that “the IOC Executive Board decision does not refer explicitly
to the requirement of three tests or to a period of 18 months”.
Nonetheless, it “finds that the Challenged Decision is in line with the
criteria established by the IOC Executive Board decision”.
Indeed, the IOC’s Decision “provides that in order to examine whether the level
playing field is affected or not (when admitting a Russian athlete to the Rio
Olympic Games), the federation must look at the athlete's respective
anti-doping record, i.e. examine the athlete's anti-doping tests” and that
“[i]n doing so, the IOC Executive Board decision specifies that only "reliable
adequate international tests" may be taken into account”. In
this regard, the Panel, and FISA, share the view that “a reliable adequate
international test can only be assumed if the sample has been analyzed in a
WADA-accredited laboratory outside Russia”.More...
Editor's note: This is the second part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.
Act II: On being
Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: “The IFs to
examine the information contained in the IP Report, and for such purpose seek
from WADA the names of athletes and National Federations (NFs) implicated.
Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for
entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games.”
The second, and by far largest,
wave of complaints involved Russian athletes barred from the game under
paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision. None of those were successful in their appeals
as the CAS sided with those IFs which took a tough stance with regard to the
Russian State doping system. The first set of cases turned on the definition of
the word “implicated” in the sense of paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision. In this
regard, on 2 August the IOC sent a communication to the IFs aiming at providing
some general guidelines. It reads as follows:
"In view of
the recent appeals filed by Russian Athletes with CAS, the IOC considers it
necessary to clarify the meaning of the notion "implicated" in the EB
The IOC does not
consider that each athlete referred to in the McLaren Lists shall be considered
per se "implicated. It is for each International federation to assess, on
the basis of the information provided in the McLaren lists and the Independent
Person Report, whether it is satisfied that the Athlete in question was
implicated in the Russian State-controlled doping scheme.
To assist the
International Federations in assessing each individual case, the IOC wishes to
provide some information. In the IOC's opinion, an athlete should not be
considered as "implicated" where:
The order was a "quarantine".
The McLaren List
does not refer to a prohibited
substance which would
have given rise
to an anti-doping rule violation or;
The McLaren List
does not refer to any prohibited substance with respect
to a given
The CAS went on to address this
question concretely in three cases analysed below. More...
Editor's Note: Ryan is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University, he defended his PhD at Erasmus University Rotterdam in December 2015. His dissertation examined human rights violations caused by international sporting events, and how international sporting organisations may be held accountable for these violations.
On Sunday, August
21, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will end. The spotlight
will dim not only on the athletes who return to their home countries to ply their
trade in relative obscurity, but also on the country of Brazil.
Once the Games have ended, life will go ‘back to normal’, although for many
residents of Rio de Janeiro, what is ‘normal’ is anything but. More...
Editor’s note: Yann Hafner is a Phd researcher at the University of Neuchâtel specialized
in sports and nationality issues. He is also Legal Affairs Manager at the Fédération
Internationale de Volleyball. Yann is
an editor of the ASSER International Sports Law Blog and has previously
published on the blog on nationality conundrums at the FIFA World Cup 2014 in
Brazil (see here).
This contribution aims to decipher
the relationship between sporting nationality and the Olympic Games. To this
end, the author will first define sporting nationality and discuss athletes’
eligibility in national team in the context of the Olympic Games. Then,
selected issues in relation with sporting nationality and the Olympic Games
(with an emphasis on issues related to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games) will be investigated.
On Monday 18 July 2016, Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren presented the Independent Person Report to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), regarding the alleged Russian
doping program surrounding the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The report was expected
to seriously threaten the participation of Russian Athletes to the rapidly
approaching Rio Games, starting on 5
August. In the weekend prior to the report’s publishing, Reuters obtained a leaked
letter drafted by the CEO’s of the US and Canadian anti-doping agencies,
which according to the New York Times was backed by “antidoping officials from at least 10 nations— including
those in the United States, Germany, Spain, Japan, Switzerland and Canada — and
20 athlete groups”, urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to
ban all Russian athletes from the upcoming Olympics.