IOC Rule 45 Struck Down by Court of Arbitration for Sport; Door Left Open for IOC to Try Again

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, October 6. AFTER a lengthy review process, initialized by both the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has stricken IOC Rule 45 from existence in a ruling today.

On June 27, 2008, the IOC Executive Board instituted Rule 45, which stated that any athlete with an anti-doping suspension of more than six months would automatically be banned from the next Olympic Games following the end of the suspension. CAS ruled that the application of Rule 45 was invalid and unenforceable.

The ruling was foreshadowed by an earlier decision when CAS cleared Jessica Hardy to compete in the 2012 London Olympic Games should she qualify at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Hardy is a prime example of why Rule 45 was deemed to be an additional punitive sanction, and not in line with the World Anti-Doping Code.

Hardy, who tested positive for clenbuterol at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, was banned for two years prior to the 2008 Olympic Games. She later had the ban reduced to one year after arbitration ruled that her positive test came from a contaminated supplement. That one-year suspension, however, still put her in jeopardy of Rule 45, and could have cost her the chance at two Olympic Games, one of which took place three years after the end of her ban.

Today, CAS ruled that Rule 45 violates the World Anti-Doping Code and the IOC own Statute stating that an additional sanction cannot be levied against an athlete that would change the effect of periods of ineligibility provisions of the WADC by adding further ineligibility after a sanction has already been served.

CAS left the door open for a different application of a Rule 45 where if the IOC still wants to exclude athletes who have been sanctioned for doping from the Olympic Games, by stating that the IOC could propose an amendment to the WADC, which would allow all involved to consider such an amendment and possibly adopt it. In so doing, the amendment would create a situation in which an Olympic ban is part of a single sanction, and not legislatively seen as two separate sanctions.

"On behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, I'd like to thank the IOC for their willingness to participate in this process," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said. "This proceeding was handled with respect and professionalism from the outset as both parties sought clarity on the rule. Like the IOC, we are in full support of clean competition and stringent anti-doping penalties. This decision does not diminish our commitment to the fight against doping, but rather ensures that athletes and National Olympic Committees have certainty as they prepare for London."

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