Two recent Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cases dealing with challenges to doping violations, by arguing that the WADA International Standards had been contravened, had contrasting results.
In the case of Veronica Campbell-Brown, CAS upheld her appeal and set aside the previous decisions. On 4 May 2013, the athlete underwent a doping control at the Jamaica Invitation meet that returned a positive result for the specified substance hydrochlorothiazide. The athlete was originally sanctioned with a reprimand and public warning, however the IAAF Review Board issued directions to the JAAA Disciplinary Panel recommending that a two year suspension be imposed on the athlete. The JAAA subsequently imposed a two year suspension.
The athlete appealed to CAS requesting that the decisions be set aside as there was no valid or admissible evidence upon which to find that she had committed an anti-doping rule violation and that accordingly no sanction could be imposed. The athlete argued that the WADA International Standards for Testing (IST) had been violated during the course of the sample collection process, thus compromising the integrity of the urine sample collected.
CAS upheld her appeal and cleared her of any anti-doping violation.
This was in contrast to the case of Patrick Sinkewitz, a professional German road racing cyclist, who was subsequently declared ineligible to compete for a period of eight years.
The German Anti-Doping Agency (GADA) had filed an appeal to CAS challenging a decision to acquit the athlete of any anti-doping rule violation. The athlete had been subject to a doping test at the Grand Prix of Lugano and the analysis of the A and B samples displayed the presence of recombinant growth hormone (GH).
GADA had requested that a period of ineligibility of no less than eight years be imposed on the athlete as he had already served a one year suspension in 2007 for an anti-doping rule violation. The athlete disputed the reliability of the test and put forward that several departures from the International Standards for Laboratories (ISL) had occurred.
CAS found that the GADA had established that the athlete’s blood samples revealed the presence of GH. On that basis, CAS reached the conclusion that the athlete had committed an anti-doping rule violation. As the athlete had committed an anti-doping rule violation in June 2007 for testosterone, an eight years ineligibility period was imposed. CAS distinguished the case of Andrus Veerpalu, in which another panel had ruled in the athlete’s favour, and explained that in this instance there was no borderline situation that might trigger the benefit of uncertainty for the athlete as it did in the Veerpalu case.
CAS confirmed its view that the findings in both the Veerpalu case and the DIS award do not undermine the reliability of the “decision limits” and did not prevent CAS from taking into consideration the ratios found in the athlete’s samples as means of evidence. CAS confirmed that it did not have to scientifically evaluate the process of the determination of the decision limits and can restrict itself to evaluating the persuasive weight of the expert testimonies before it. In Veerpalu it essentially based its conclusion on technical issues, such as late or incomplete provisions of information and data by the FIS.