The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, has just published (July, 2009) a Digest of the Awards made by its Ad Hoc Division (AHD) - a kind of circuit tribunal of the CAS - during the Beijing Olympic Games held from 8 – 24 August, 2008; and, as usual, they make very interesting reading. They are published in the two official languages of the CAS: English and French.
Writing in the Foreword, the President of the CAS AHD, Dr Robert Briner, had this to say:
‘The caseload of the ad hoc Division was comparable to those of the last Games. The most important aspect of the role of the ad hoc Division of CAS in the Olympic Games ….. is, however, not the number of cases decided but the fact that there exists an independent body which in a very short time is able to render and independent and fair judgment in the interests of the athletes and all other participants and thereby uphold the integrity of the Olympic Games. This was the seventh time CAS set up an ad hoc Division at Olympic Games. The presence and activity of CAS has therefore become a mature, traditional element of the Games. It has established and refined its working methods and is universally accepted throughout the Olympic Movement.’
The CAS AHD has operated at all the Summer and Winter Games since and including those held in Atlanta in 1996 (the so-called ‘COKE Games’); and will again be in session at the Winter and Summer Games in Vancouver and London in 2010 and 2012 respectively. Under the CAS AHD rules, the proceedings are free of charge and awards must rendered within twenty-four hours of a case being brought before the CAS AHD. Of course, if the services of a lawyer or a translator are engaged in the proceedings, their fees must be paid by the party concerned.
The jurisdiction of the CAS AHD is derived from the provisions of article 59 of the Olympic Charter, the latest version of which dates from 7 July, 2007, as follows:
‘Any dispute arising on the occasion of, or in connection with, the Olympic Games shall be submitted exclusively to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in accordance with the Code of Sports-related Arbitration.’
To give effect to these mandatory and exclusive provisions, the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China issued on 10 June, 2008 to the relevant People’s Court in Beijing and also to the co-host cities, with the exception of Hong Kong (SAR), the following directive:
‘The period of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, pursuant to the stipulations under the Host City Contract for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in the Year 2008 executed by and between us and the IOC, and provisions under the Olympic Charter, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will set up an ad hoc division in Beijing to conduct arbitration of three types of sports-related disputes concerning the events of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.’
The types of disputes concerned are as follows:
• eligibility disputes;
• doping test results; and
• event results or referee penalties.
To guarantee the exclusive jurisdiction of the CAS AHD, the above directive also included the following provision:
‘The People’s Court will not accept any legal proceeding instituted in regard to the aforesaid disputes; provided that a party is dissatisfied with the arbitration award made by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in regard to the aforesaid disputes and thus requests that the People’s Court withdraw such award or applies to the People’s Court for enforcement, the People’s Court shall not accept.’
As far as the athletes and other participants in the Olympic Games are concerned, they are required, in their entry form, to submit all disputes to the CAS AHD whether they wish to do so or not; otherwise they will not be allowed to participate. Quaere: is this a valid consent to arbitration? An interesting subject and one for another occasion!
Eleven cases were filed with the CAS AHD in Beijing; and, surprisingly, there were no doping cases. About half the cases raised eligibility issues and the other half concerned decisions taken by officials during the competitions. The sports concerned included field hockey; swimming; tennis; wrestling; and sailing.
The cases were handled by a team of 12 CAS arbitrators drawn from the five continents of the world and they were supported administratively by members of the CAS Office.
Two of the Awards made by the CAS AHD in Beijing were appealed – unsuccessfully – to the Swiss Federal Tribunal and the text of the Judgement of the Tribunal delivered on 22 January, 2009 is included in the CAS Digest. The Digest also usefully contains the AHD Rules for the Beijing Games and the CAS Application for AHD Arbitration Form.
A copy of the Digest of the Beijing CAS AHD Awards and further information on the CAS generally may be obtained from:
Court of Arbitration for Sport
Avenue de Beaumont 2
Tel: + 44 21 613 50 00
Fax: + 44 21 613 50 01
Ian Blackshaw, Sports Lawyer
TMC Asser International Sports Law Centre, The Hague