Independent adjudicators selected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will assume control from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of all anti-doping decisions at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, including handing out sanctions.
The move follows discussions between CAS and IOC lawyers.
It was formally approved by the IOC’s ruling Executive Board at a meeting here today.
A special CAS Anti-Doping Division will be set-up to hear and decide on all cases instead of the IOC Disciplinary Commission.
They will also conduct subsequent re-analysis of samples taken at the Games.
Between one and three arbitrators, all of whom are doping specialists, will hear each case, with all from a separate division to those involved in appeals cases.
Lawyers working on a pro bono basis would also be available to defend anyone under investigation, which could include coaches and members of an entourage, as well as athletes.
This process is set to begin at Rio 2016 and will be employed at all subsequent Olympic Games.
The move has been hailed as part of the Olympic Agenda 2020 reform process, although it was not included among the 40 recommendations voted upon at the Extraordinary IOC Session in Monte Carlo in December 2014.
It follows a proposal at last year’s Olympic Summit in Lausanne for drug testing to be made independent of sporting bodies and for a more powerful World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to assume responsibility over International Federations.
Avoiding a possible conflict of interest was a major reason for these changes.
“This is a major step forward to make doping testing independent, following the decision of the IOC Executive Board three months ago after the proposal of the Olympic Summit,” said IOC President Thomas Bach following the meeting.
“It represents support for the IOC’s zero tolerance policy in the fight against doping and in the protection of the clean athletes.”
With CAS still a sports body, whose Australian President John Coates is also head of the Australian Olympic Committee and a vice-president of the IOC, critics will claim, however, that conflict of interests remain.
WADA is also led by another IOC vice-president, Britain’s Sir Craig Reedie.
Coates, reportedly excluded from the debate on the issue at today’s meeting, in order to avoid a conflict of interest, was keen to make clear that the system will be completely independent from sport.
Arbitrators appointed to this division must not involved in sports bodies, either as a representative of the IOC, a National Olympic Committee or an International Federation.
Another stage also being changed is a procedural step in which the laboratory conducting the test must take it to the President of the IOC in order to decide whether the case can process.
In reality, Coates claimed, the President would never stop this process, but this is now being abandoned to ensure he cannot interfere.
A President of the new CAS Anti-Doping Division will be appointed “very soon”, with the appointment due to be a “reputable person who has not got there by virtue of an affiliation with the IOC, and IF, or an NOC”.
Coates hailed it as a major step forward.
“Athletes should be pleased with this,” he said.
“Suddenly they will appear before a hearing where prosecutor and judge are different people.
“They will now have an independent body determining his or her fate.”
- By Nick Butler at the Palace Hotel in Lausanne
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz