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The Dummy's guide to the
Court of Arbitration for Sport
The Rediff Team |
January 23, 2003 20:38 IST
The 'best' Indian cricket team will play in the World Cup in February, but the legal wrangling over sponsorship is likely to continue even after the tournament is over.
On January 11, all 15 members of the Indian World Cup squad signed the contentious ICC player contracts, but with certain riders attached. Given the fact that the ICC is unlikely to accept the caveats, an uncertain process of arbitration is could ensue.
"The Indian players (and the BCCI) have agreed to nothing more than they already have; the ICC has agreed to reduce nothing. The Indians had to sign their contracts before the January 14 deadline and that they have done, and tagged on their demands," said a senior BCCI official.
The issue now revolves around the question of damages, if any, that may arise over the conditions set by the Indians. This could be end up in the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in Lausanne. If it rules in favour of the ICC, the BCCI will have to pay heavy damages to the world body. If the decision goes the other way, the ICC will be in a tangle.
"If the CAS rules that the ICC contract amounts to unfair trade practice, then we stand validated," the official added.
Founded in 1984, the CAS is an arbitration institution that specialises in resolving legal disputes in the world of sport. It is financed by the entire Olympic Movement -- the International Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Federations and the Association of National Olympic Committees. The headquarters of the CAS are in Lausanne, Switzerland, but there are also two decentralised offices, in New York and in Sydney.
The CAS is under the administrative and financial authority of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) and is divided into two divisions, the Ordinary Arbitration Division (OAD) and the Appeals Arbitration Division (AAD). The OAD resolves disputes arising from all types of legal relations between parties, such as contracts for television rights or a simple sponsorship. The AAD resolves disputes arising from "last instance decisions" taken by the tribunals of sports organizations, federations or associations when the regulations or statutes of these bodies (or a private agreement) requires the CAS to have jurisdiction. Both the OAD and the AAD have a panel that hears the dispute.
A panel comprises either one or more arbitrators.
The CAS has more than 150 arbitrators from 55 countries, chosen for their specialist knowledge of arbitration and sports law. In 2002, the CAS dealt with 80 cases of arbitration, but this figure is expected to increase considerably in 2003 with the first football-related disputes -- FIFA has become a member of the CAS -- coming under its jurisdiction.
Most importantly, for a dispute to be submitted to arbitration by the CAS, the parties must agree to it in writing. Such agreement may be on a one-off basis or appear in a contract or the statutes or regulations of a sports organization. Parties may agree in advance to submit any future dispute to arbitration by the CAS, or they can agree to have recourse to the CAS after a dispute has arisen.
A CAS arbitration normally lasts between 6 and 12 months. For the appeals procedure, an award must be pronounced within four months of filing the statement of appeal. In urgent cases and upon request, the CAS may, within a very short time, order interim measures or suspend the execution of a decision appealed against.
In the context of ordinary arbitration, the parties are free to agree on the law applicable to the merits of the dispute. Failing such agreement, Swiss law applies. In the context of the appeals procedure, the arbitrators rule on the basis of the regulations of the body concerned by the appeal and, subsidiarily, the law of the country in which the body is domiciled. The procedure itself is governed by the Code of Sports-related Arbitration.
Some interesting cases handled by the CAS:
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING - DOPING OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES 2002
The CAS dismissed the appeals filed by Russian cross-country skiers Larissa Lazutina and Olga Danilova against the decisions made by the IOC Executive Board and the FIS Council, which were made as a result of positive doping tests, which showed the use of the prohibited substance darbepoetin.
NORWAY AGAINST THE IOC - OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES 2002
Norway is taking the International Olympic Committee to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an effort to have three competitors who failed drug tests at the Winter Games in Salt Lake City stripped of the medals they won before testing positive.
The Norwegians claim the IOC is breaking its own charter by failing to take back medals won by Russia's Larissa Lazutina and Olga Danilova and Spain's Johann Muehlegg in the cross-country skiing after they tested positive for banned performance-enhancing substances.
GYMNASTICS - DOPING SYDNEY OLYMPIC GAMES
Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan was supposed to be the next Romanian hero, the first to win an all-around gymnastic gold since Nadia Comaneci, in a small country where great Olympic moments are few and far between. The CAS upheld the International Olympic Committee's decision to strip her of the medal after she tested positive for the banned stimulant pseudoephedrine.
ATHLETICS - USATF vs IAAF
The latest ruling of the CAS was in favour of USA Track & Field (USATF) regarding 13 positive U.S. dope tests, which ended a long-running saga with the sport's world governing body.
The U.S. governing body and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) agreed to go to the CAF last April after the USATF refused to name 13 athletes who failed drugs tests, one of whom competed at the Sydney Olympics despite testing positive for an anabolic steroid.
The CAS said: "Based on its appreciation of the evidence as a whole, the unique facts and circumstances of this case constitute a valid and compelling reason why USATF should not be required to disclose the information in question to IAAF."
USATF had come under fire for refusing to release the names, with International Olympic Committee chairman Jacques Rogge warning last year that the federation could face disciplinary action if it refused to co-operate.
The U.S. governing body argued that it could not breach its own confidentiality rules regarding athletes who produced positive "A" samples but who subsequently were not convicted of doping offences either because of laboratory error, medical rulings or other factors.