London — Eight badminton athletes who were expelled from the London Olympics last week could have taken their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the head of the world’s highest sports court said on Monday.
The athletes from China, Indonesia and South Korea were kicked out of the Olympics for playing to lose their matches with the aim of securing more favorable paths in the knock-out rounds.
China, who had their top-seeded players Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli expelled, instantly accepted the decision by the federation. Indonesia and South Korea unsuccessfully attempted to have it overturned by lodging an appeal with the federation.
“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,” Matthieu Reeb told Reuters in an interview.
“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.”
The teams did not make use of CAS’ ad hoc court set up in London for the duration of the Olympics and which guarantees verdicts within 24 hours from the time an appeal is lodged.
So far, the CAS has heard nine cases in London, all on eligibility and selection.
“There was no appeal (in badminton), because I believe there was no intent from the teams from the national Olympic committee concerned to refer the case to CAS which is kind of a public procedure.”
“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.”
Reeb said he could also envisage ruling on social media cases in the future after two athletes – a Swiss and a Greek – were kicked out of the Olympics for racist remarks on Twitter.
“These questions may lead to exclusion, or disqualification from the Games. 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.”
“It is probably a new range of disputes that could be submitted to CAS in the coming months or years if necessary,” he said.
One case that is expected to land on his desk, though not during the Games, is the dispute between former top cyclist Lance Armstrong and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
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.
“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 (international cycling union) or by Lance Armstrong before the CAS.”
“One day or another this matter will come before our tribunal,” Reeb said.