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Court of Arbitration for Sport

The entrance of the headqarters of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The headquarters of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS; French: Tribunal arbitral du sport, TAS) is an international quasi-judicial body established to settle disputes related to sport through arbitration. Its headquarters are in Lausanne (Switzerland) and its courts are located in New York, Sydney and Lausanne. Temporary courts are established in current Olympic host cities.


  • Jurisdiction and appeals 1
  • History 2
  • Jurisprudence 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Jurisdiction and appeals

Generally speaking, a dispute may be submitted to the CAS only if there is an arbitration agreement between the parties which specifies recourse to the CAS. According to rule 61 of the Olympic Charter, all disputes in connection with the Olympic Games can only be submitted to CAS.[1]

All Olympic International Federations have recognised the jurisdiction of CAS for at least some disputes.[2] Through compliance with the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code, all signatories, including all Olympic International Federations and National Olympic Committees, have recognised the jurisdiction of CAS for anti-doping rule violations.[1][3][4]

As a Swiss arbitration organization, decisions of the CAS can be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.[5] Appeals of arbitration decisions are generally not successful, and no evaluation of the merits is taking place and the evaluation is mainly based on whether procedural requirements have been met, and whether the award is incompatible with public policy. As of March 2012 there have been seven successful appeals. Six of the upheld appeals were procedural in nature, and only once has the Federal Supreme Court overruled a CAS decision on the merits of the case. This was in the case of Matuzalém, a Brazilian football player.[6]


With the intermixing of sports and politics, the body was originally conceived by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch to deal with disputes arising during the Olympics. It was established as part of the IOC in 1984.

In 1994, a case decided by the CAS was appealed to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, challenging CAS impartiality. The Swiss court ruled that the CAS was a true court of arbitration but drew attention to the numerous links between the CAS and the IOC.

In response, the CAS underwent reforms to make itself more independent of the IOC, both organizationally and financially. The biggest change resulting from this reform was the creation of an "International Council of Arbitration for Sport" (ICAS) to look after the running and financing of the CAS, thereby taking the place of the IOC. As of 2004, most recent cases that were considered by the CAS dealt with transfer disputes within professional association football or with doping.


In November 2009, CAS decided its first case on athlete biological passports, when it upheld the two-year suspension of skater Claudia Pechstein. In March 2011, the court suspended two Italian cyclists, Franco Pellizotti and Pietro Caucchioli, for two years based on evidence from their blood profiles.[7]

In October 2011, in a case affecting the 2012 Summer Olympics, the court declared that a part of the Olympic Charter violated the World Anti-doping Code. The Osaka rule prevented athletes suspended for at least six months for anti-doping rule violations from competing at the Olympic Games following the suspension's expiration. The court later re-affirmed this decision, when it struck down a long-standing by-law of the British Olympic Association preventing the selection of athletes sanctioned for doping.[8] Both the IOC and BOA have responded by campaigning for adding a similar rule at the next update of the Code, which will be in effect by the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The court is reluctant to overturn field of play decisions, though it may do so in cases where there is clear evidence that the officials acted in bad faith.[9]

The court ruled in 2006 that

  • Official website
  • "Where do Athletes Go to Court?" Slate 1 July 2004

External links

  1. ^ a b International Olympic Committee: Olympic Charter
  2. ^ Richard H. McLaren, Twenty-Five Years of the Court of Arbitration for Sport: A Look in the Rear-View Mirror, 20 Marq. Sports L. Rev. 305 (2010)
  3. ^ World Anti-Doping Agency: 2009 World Anti-Doping Code
  4. ^ Hilary Findlay and Marcus F. Mazzucco: The Supervisory Role of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Regulating the International Sport System
  5. ^ Court of Arbitration for Sport: Media release 23 July 2012
  6. ^ Roy Levy: Swiss Federal Tribunal overrules CAS award in a landmark decision: FIFA vs Matuzalem
  7. ^ Court Upholds Cyclist's Ban Based on Biological Passport New York Times. Retrieved 24 March 2013
  8. ^ "London 2012: Dwain Chambers eligible after court ruling". BBC Sport. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Court of Arbitration for Sport:BOC & BTC & Márcio W. Ferreira v/ WTF & COM & FMT & Damian A.Villa ValadezCAS 2012/A/2731
  10. ^ "Gibraltar have failed in their attempt to become a member of Uefa.". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  11. ^ IFA take case to CAS
  12. ^ Fumagalli, Luigi. "Irish Football Association v/ Football Association of Ireland, Daniel Kearns and FIFA" (PDF). Retrieved 25 June 2012. 


In 2010, the Irish Football Association (the association of Northern Ireland) took its case to CAS after FIFA failed to prevent the Football Association of Ireland (the association of the Republic of Ireland) from selecting Northern Irish-born players who had no blood link to the Republic.[11] The CAS ruled in favour of the FAI and FIFA by confirming that they were correctly applying the regulations.[12]


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