The British Olympic Association (BOA) has confirmed that it has lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to determine the validity of its lifetime ban from Olympic competition for athletes convicted of a doping offence. It is hoped that a decision can be reached by the end of April, three months before the London 2012 Olympic Games start. Should the BOA lose, it could pave the way for David Millar to compete there.
The move follows a recent declaration by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) that the BOA’s Bylaw 25 does not comply with the World Anti-doping code (WADC) because together with the original ban, it means that an athlete would be sanctioned twice for committing the same offence.
As previously reported on road.cc, the BOA’s board voted unanimously in November to seek clarification at CAS of its Bylaw 25 after WADA said that it infringed the WADC.
That followed a separate decision from CAS in the case of Amercian athlete LaShawn Merritt, in which it was held that Rule 45 of the International Olympic Committee’s Charter, which bans athletes who have served a doping ban of six months or more from competing at the next Games after returning from their ban, was invalid.
Millar, who served a two year ban for EPO use between 2004 and 2006 and now sits on WADA's athlete's committee, said at the time that he did not intend to challenge Bylaw 45 himself.
However, following last month’s news that the issue was to be settled at CAS between WADA and the BOA, meaning that he would not have to bring an action himself to challenge the Bylaw, he said he would wait and see how things turned out. World champion Mark Cavendish subsequently said that he would like to see Millar feature at London 2012.
According to the BOA, in filing the appeal at CAS, it is:
• Fulfilling a commitment to the overwhelming majority of British Olympic athletes, present and past, who continue to express their unwavering support for the selection policy and have encouraged the BOA to vigorously defend it.
• Obtaining clarity on the status of its selection policy well in advance of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which will be of benefit to athletes and National Governing Bodies.
• Resolving the matter through an arbitration process that involves another sport organisation (WADA) rather than an individual athlete or group of athletes.
Yesterday, BOA chairman Lord Colin Moynihan said: “The BOA selection policy is a direct expression of the commitment British athletes have made to uphold the values of fair play, integrity and clean competition – values that are at the heart of Olympic sport.
“It is a policy that reflects the culture and character of Team GB. The BOA and British Olympic athletes do not consider that those who have deliberately cheated should represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games.
“We are appreciative of the expressions of support and encouragement we have received during the past few weeks, not the least of which have come from groups such as the BOA Athletes’ Commission, the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission and the European Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission, whose members have added their voices to this important issue.
“We appreciate the opportunity to appear before CAS and explain why our selection policy is entirely consistent with the Olympic Charter, and why it is essential for National Olympic Committees to have the autonomy and independence to determine their own selection policies.”
The BOA says that the lifetime ban is a selection policy rather than a sanction, and points out that the presence of an athlete within the team could have a detrimental effect on morale as well as meaning that a clean athlete misses out on a place.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.