Sports and Courts: How a Ruling Could Change the Game

Published on February 12th, 2016

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has for decades served as the final arbiter on sports disputes throughout the world, ruling on thousands of cases ranging from trifling to momentous.

The court enabled Oscar Pistorius to run against able-bodied athletes, upheld the cyclist Floyd Landis’s doping suspension and prevented Luis Suárez from overturning his suspension from soccer for biting an opponent at the 2014 World Cup.

The court was involved in the case which resulted in Simon Daubney being the first person in the America’s Cup to be banned for drugs. The court also heard a case that impacted the results at the 2012 Paralympic Sailing Regatta.

All Olympic federations and the World-Anti Doping Agency recognize the court’s supremacy, and athletes can compete only if they waive their right to bring sports cases to their national courts by signing arbitration clauses binding them to the sports court, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A speedskater from Germany, however, is on the verge of turning this entrenched system of justice on its head.

Claudia Pechstein, Germany’s most decorated Winter Olympian, has challenged the fairness of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a German court, and a ruling next month could drastically alter how justice is meted out in the sports arena.

If she prevails, athletes may be able to bypass international sports’ normal dispute-resolution systems and instead seek redress for their grievances through their national courts — a radical notion considering the vastly different justice systems around the world.

Full story in NY Times… click here.

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