The British Olympic Association (BOA) announced today that it has filed a formal appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), challenging a recent decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to declare the BOA’s selection policy addressing athlete eligibility standards for Team GB to be non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.
The BOA and WADA have agreed that CAS is the appropriate forum for resolution of this matter, and both parties are seeking to arrange matters so that a decision can be made by CAS before the end of April 2012.
It is with the unanimous agreement of its Board of Directors that the BOA is defending its selection policy before CAS. In so doing, the BOA is:
Fulfilling a commitment to the overwhelming majority of British Olympic athletes, present and past, who continue to express their unwavering support for the selection policy and have encouraged the BOA to vigorously defend it.
Obtaining clarity on the status of its selection policy well in advance of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which will be of benefit to athletes and National Governing Bodies.
Resolving the matter through an arbitration process that involves another sport organisation (WADA) rather than an individual athlete or group of athletes.
The BOA will be represented in its appeal by external legal advisors Lord David Pannick QC of Blackstone Chambers, Adam Lewis QC of Blackstone Chambers and Tom Cassels of Baker & McKenzie.
“The BOA selection policy is a direct expression of the commitment British athletes have made to uphold the values of fair play, integrity and clean competition – values that are at the heart of Olympic sport,” BOA ChairmanLord Colin Moynihan said. “It is a policy that reflects the culture and character of Team GB. The BOA and British Olympic athletes do not consider that those who have deliberately cheated should represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games.”
“We are appreciative of the expressions of support and encouragement we have received during the past few weeks, not the least of which have come from groups such as the BOA Athletes’ Commission, the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission and the European Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission, whose members have added their voices to this important issue.
“We appreciate the opportunity to appear before CAS and explain why our selection policy is entirely consistent with the Olympic Charter, and why it is essential for National Olympic Committees to have the autonomy and independence to determine their own selection policies.”
In filing the appeal, the British Olympic Association underscored several important points:
1) The BOA selection policy provides standards that determine whether an athlete is eligible for selection to Team GB for the Olympic Games. It is not a sanction for a doping offence. Rather, it is a policy that addresses who is, and is not, eligible for selection to Team GB – and makes clear that any athlete who deliberately cheats by using prohibited substances is not eligible. The policy addresses what form Team GB should take, and does not seek to punish any individual athlete.
2) The presence of athletes who deliberately cheat within Team GB would damage team morale, atmosphere and cohesiveness. It would also damage the credibility and reputation of the team in the eyes of the athletes and the public, and would send the wrong message to aspiring Olympians and new entrants to Olympic sport – particularly young people.
Further, an athlete who deliberately cheats should not take the place in Team GB of a clean athlete, who has trained and competed in full adherence to the rules and without seeking an unfair advantage through the use of prohibited substances.
3) The BOA selection policy was introduced in 1992 (seven years before the establishment of WADA and 11 years before implementation of the WADA Code) at the direction of the BOA Athletes’ Commission, and has been in place for the past nine Olympic Games. Every athlete competing today who has deliberately taken prohibited substances has known about the BOA’s selection policy and has nevertheless regarded this as a risk worth taking.
4) Since its inception, the BOA’s selection policy has enjoyed overwhelming support from British Olympic athletes. Following every Olympic Games, a survey conducted by the British Athletes’ Commission has found that more than 90% of athletes who compete for Team GB support the selection policy.
Most recently, legendary British Olympians such as Sir Steve Redgrave, Lord Sebastian Coe, Karen Pickering MBE, Colin Jackson CBE, Rebecca Adlington OBE, BOA Athletes’ Commission Chair Sarah Winckless – and many others – have offered their public support for the policy.
5) The BOA selection policy provides an established and recognised avenue for appeal, which has been successfully utilised by athletes since the inception of the policy. The process ensures that only athletes who deliberately cheat are ineligible for selection.
6) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recently reaffirmed, in writing to the BOA, that it is entirely within the remit of every National Olympic Committee to determine the eligibility standards for its Olympic Team. Senior leaders from the IOC, including Vice President Thomas Bach, who heads the IOC’s Juridical Commission, have offered public comments that reinforce the importance of protecting the autonomy of NOCs.