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Unless ‘fairness requires otherwise’ – Exceptions to retroactive disqualification of competitive results for doping offences

Medal with Syringe
Thursday, 06 April 2017 By Markus Manninen

Retroactive disqualification of competitive results is a vital part of a credible anti-doping regime for various reasons. It has a deterrent effect on doping, particularly when combined with increased retesting of samples. Moreover, from the clean athletes' point of view, retroactive re-rankings and reallocation of medals may have intangible significance and considerable economic effects: successful athletes are awarded substantial amounts of monetary compensation.

This article focuses on the most common legal challenges relating to the retroactive disqualification of an individual athlete's competitive results under Article 10.8 of the World Anti-Doping Code 2015[1] (the "Code"). Specifically, it looks at:

  • Article 10.8 of the Code

  • Fairness test - Factors in assessing fairness
    • disqualification of results over a long period of time

    • athlete's degree of fault

    • unaffected sporting results

    • significant consequences of the disqualification of the results

  • Concluding remarks

In particular, the author examines the grounds for exceptionally upholding the competition results of an athlete that has committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), between the time of the ADRV and a suspension. The disqualification of results at multi-competition events[2] or in team sports[3] are not addressed here.

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Written by

Markus Manninen

Markus Manninen

Markus is an attorney focused on commercial litigation and arbitration as well as sports law at the Finnish law firm Hannes Snellman Attorneys (Helsinki). He serves as a CAS arbitrator.

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