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Armstrong case intervention unlikely, says CAS

posted 6 Aug 2012, 07:11 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 6 Aug 2012, 07:12 ]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport tell Reuters that they are unlikely to intervene in the case of doping allegations against Lance Armstrong until it has been heard in full.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) expects doping allegations against Lance Armstrong to be heard in full by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) before it has any involvement.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) is currently in dispute with USADA over who should handle the case, and wants CAS to decide which of the two bodies has jurisdiction.

Three former members of Armstrong's U.S Postal Service (USPS) cycling team, including two medical staff and a team trainer, have been banned for life by USADA, who have served Armstrong with written notification of allegations against him.

Armstrong, who has retired from the sport after winning an unprecedented seven Tour de France titles, has been dogged by accusations of drug cheating for years despite never failing a doping test and always denying wrongdoing.

In an exchange of letters, released by a district court in Texas, the UCI urged USADA to halt its legal action, forward all case documents and allow an independent body to handle "results management".

USADA objected, saying the UCI had not previously objected to its jurisdiction over the case.

Speaking to Reuters Television on Monday (August 6), Matthieu Reeb, head of CAS, said that he expected the case to be heard in America under USADA jurisdiction.

"My personal impression is that since the USADA procedure has already started, I presume that it will go until the end, and the decision of USADA may be then challenged either by the UCI or by Lance Armstrong before the CAS," he said. "I don't think there will be an agreement now at this stage to refer the matter directly to the CAS."

Meanwhile the CAS is playing an unheralded but important role at London 2012, helping to straighten out disputes between national Olympic committees, athletes, and sport's governing bodies.

So far CAS has heard nine cases during the games in a specially convened court which sits at a central London hotel, and aims to deliver justice within 24 hours.

"(The cases) are all related to qualification, selection or eligibility problems in relation to participation in the Olympic games," Reeb said.

"The reasons are different, for some athletes it was a question of if the athlete or another one should be selected because of selection criteria, interpretation of the qualification rules of an international federation, or it could be also a change in the selection because of a disciplinary case, like a doping case, which has occurred just before the start of the games."

Two issues that CAS did not become involved with were arguably the most interesting disciplinary cases of the games so far - two athletes thrown out of the Olympics for alleged racist comments on social media website Twitter, and another eight badminton players disqualified for not trying hard enough.

On the issue of the use of social media, Reeb says that athletes will need to become increasingly aware of what they can and cannot say as the differences between private thoughts and public utterances become increasingly blurred.

"These questions may lead to exclusion, or disqualification from the games," he said. "Of course the status of the athlete is affected by such decisions so technically, it would be possible for them to file an application or a request for arbitration for the CAS, and we should be able to review these cases within a very short time frame.

"We did not have any appeal or any application from the athletes who have been expelled from the games for that reason, but it's probably a new range of disputes that could be submitted to CAS in the coming months or years if necessary."

As for the badminton, Reeb said that an appeal by any of the players - or the national Olympic committees involved - would have thrown up some challenging points.

"I would have imagined that because of the sanction, which was extremely harsh for the athletes, exclusion from the games, I could have imagined that they could have tried to go to CAS because the procedure is quick, it is free and it could be very practical for them, to know to have a legal answer to this question before leaving London," he said.

"There was no appeal, because I believe there was no intent from the teams to refer the case to CAS. But I can imagine that this is an interesting issue for us because it involved not necessarily a violation of the rules technically, but more a violation of sportsmanship and the moral duties of athletes."