Lawyers in B P Collins LLP’s dispute resolution group recently represented an established Olympic athlete before an international tribunal in connection with disciplinary charges laid over doping allegations out of competition in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
After charges were laid against the athlete by their country’s national regulatory body, a national anti-doping agency, following a positive test result for a prohibited substance, Simon Carroll with Bianca Balmelli of Littleton chambers, were instructed to challenge the tribunal’s jurisdiction, and to oppose a proposed 4-year ban and disqualification of results between testing and sanction, including those at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
After hearing live evidence, including from the athlete and training partners surrounding the result, which the athlete admitted, the tribunal was persuaded that the problematic use of a prohibited substance had been an instance of ‘genuine mistake’ and upheld the argument that there was ‘no significant fault or negligence’ on the athlete’s part in the circumstances. The tribunal refused to disqualify the athlete’s later Olympic results, noting that there was no suggestion that the isolated incident had impacted the athlete’s results several months later; and imposed a much-reduced ban of 12 months, allowing credit for time provisionally suspended, to account for the reduced level of culpability.
Notably, the jurisdictional challenge considered the basis on which the national anti-doping agency had authority to operate and charge under its country’s domestic law, in circumstances where there was no argument before the tribunal over jurisdiction being founded by any alternative means. Although the tribunal ultimately concluded that jurisdiction existed, after hearing expert evidence, it noted that the domestic legislative position of the national anti-doping agency appeared highly unsatisfactory and observed that regularisation was needed.
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