Court of Arbitration for Sport

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Court of Arbitration for Sport
(French) Tribunal arbitral du sport
Court of Arbitration for Sport - Lausanne 2.jpg
Headquarters, in Lausanne (Switzerland).
Established 1984[1]
Country Switzerland
Location Lausanne
Authorized by International Olympic Committee (Olympic Charter)
Decisions are appealed to Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland
The entrance of the headquarters of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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[edit]

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.[2] Starting in 2016, an anti-doping division of CAS will judge doping cases at the Olympic Games, replacing the IOC disciplinary commission.[3] These decisions can be appealed to CAS's ad hoc court in the Olympic host city or, if the ad hoc court is no longer available, to the permanent CAS.[4]

All Olympic International Federations have recognised the jurisdiction of CAS for at least some disputes.[5] 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.[2][6][7]

As a Swiss arbitration organization, decisions of the CAS can be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.[8] 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.[9]

The Federal Court of Justice of Germany ruled against the German speed-skater Claudia Pechstein, recognising a lack of jurisdiction to revisit her case. The Federal Court ruled that CAS met the requirements of a court of arbitration according to German law, and that CAS's independence from the parties was secured by the method of selecting arbitrators and the possibility to appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.[10][11]


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.[1]

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.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is planning to move its headquarters from the Château de Béthusy to the south part of the Palais de Beaulieu (both in Lausanne).[12]

Jurisprudence examples of note[edit]

Prior to that, the case of skater Claudia Pechstein had been decided (2009/A/1912 & 1913) on similar grounds.[14] Writing in the 2011/2 CAS Bulletin regarding the institution of the ABP program, CAS Counsel Despina Mavromati differentiated between the two types of cases and wrote:

It is noteworthy that CAS had already issued an award suspending an athlete based on the longitudinal profiling of the biological markers before the adoption of the ABP by the IFs [international federations]: in CAS 2009/A/1912 & 1913 [Pechstein], the Panel suspended an Olympic athlete after the biological data showed irregular blood values. According to CAS, those abnormal values were not caused by an error occurred in a laboratory, as the athlete asserted, but due to the banned manipulation of the athlete’s blood. The essential difference between ABP judgments and the CAS 2009/A/1912 & 1913 consists in that in the latter case the athlete’s blood data was drawn from a sample the athlete gave at the federations championships and therefore not from data gathered by an official systematic program run by the athlete’s union.[15]

  • 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.[16] In CAS 2010/A/2090, the CAS Panel explained that the reason for this is not a matter of jurisdiction, but of arbitral self-restraint.[17]
  • 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.[18] The "Osaka rule" therein had 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.[19][20] 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.[by whom?]
  • In July 2016 the CAS confirmed that the Russian Olympic Committee could not enter track and field athletes for the 2016 Summer Olympics, with the exception of those cleared by the IAAF under the new competetion rules regarding "neutral athletes". As the IOC was not a party to the case, the panel found it lacked jurisdiction to decide on whether the IOC could allow such cleared athletes to represent Russia, allow them to compete indepently, or refuse their participation entirely. In the same decision the panel rejected the appeals of 67 Russian athletes against the decisions of the IAAF denying their applications to appear as "neutral athletes" at the 2016 Summer Olympics. The full arbitral award has not been released.[21]
  • The court ruled in 2006 that Gibraltar had valid grounds for its application to join UEFA, forcing the organisation to hand it provisional membership. At the next UEFA Congress, however, Gibraltar was overwhelmingly rejected in a vote, due to lobbying from Spain, in defiance of the CAS ruling.[22] Gibraltar subsequently became a member of UEFA in 2013. In May 2016 CAS partially upheld Gibraltar's appeal against a decision by FIFA denying membership. The court did not grant FIFA membership, but ruled that FIFA should grant a full membership as soon as possible.[23]Gibraltar was granted membership at the FIFA congress held later the same month. [24]
  • In July 2015, the CAS overruled a UEFA decision concerning the abandoned Albania-Serbia match, giving Albania the points for victory.[27]


  1. ^ a b History of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, official website of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (page visited on 5 May 2016).
  2. ^ a b International Olympic Committee: Olympic Charter
  3. ^ Karolos Grohman: CAS to take over doping cases at Olympics Accessed 18 June 2016.
  4. ^ Court of Arbitration for Sport: Arbitration Rules Applicable to the CAS Anti-doping division Accessed 18 June 2016.
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ World Anti-Doping Agency: 2009 World Anti-Doping Code
  7. ^ Hilary Findlay and Marcus F. Mazzucco: The Supervisory Role of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Regulating the International Sport System
  8. ^ Court of Arbitration for Sport: Media release 23 July 2012
  9. ^ Roy Levy: Swiss Federal Tribunal overrules CAS award in a landmark decision: FIFA vs Matuzalem
  10. ^ Christian Keidel: German Federal Tribunal rejects Claudia Pechstein’s claim for damages against International Skating Union (ISU) Accessed 17 June 2016.
  11. ^ CAS hosted: English translation of German Federal Tribunal decision
  12. ^ Aïna Skjellaug, "Privé de sa tour Taoua, Beaulieu présente son plan B", Le Temps, Wednesday 18 May 2016 (page visited on 18 May 2016).
  13. ^ Court Upholds Cyclist's Ban Based on Biological Passport New York Times. Retrieved 24 March 2013
  14. ^ CAS Bulletin 2011/2 The Athlete Biological Passport Program by Despina Mavromati
  15. ^ CAS Bulletin 2011/2 The Athlete Biological Passport Program by Despina Mavromati
  16. ^ Court of Arbitration for Sport:CAS 2012/A/2731 BOC & BTC & Márcio W. Ferreira v/ WTF & COM & FMT & Damian A.Villa Valadez See §104 in particular.
  17. ^ Aino-Kaisa Saarinen; Finnish Ski Association (FSA) vs Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) CAS/2010/A/2090
  18. ^ USOC vs IOC CAS/2011/O/2422
  19. ^ "London 2012: Dwain Chambers eligible after court ruling". BBC Sport. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  20. ^ BOA vs WADA CAS/2011/A/2658
  21. ^ Court of Arbitration for Sport: CAS rejects the claims/appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes Accessed 25 July 2016
  22. ^ "Gibraltar have failed in their attempt to become a member of Uefa.". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  23. ^ "Cas tells Fifa to reconsider Gibraltar’s membership ‘without delay’". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  24. ^ "Fifa: Kosovo and Gibraltar become members of world governing body". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  25. ^ IFA take case to CAS
  26. ^ CAS/2010/A/2071. "Irish Football Association v/ Football Association of Ireland, Daniel Kearns and FIFA" (PDF). 
  27. ^ Albania Football Federation vs Serbia Football Federation CAS/2015/A3874

External links[edit]