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Drugs in Sport – Suspension of Athletes due to Ingesting Banned Substances is About to Get a Major Re-think

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Doping In Sport

Drugs in Sport – Suspension of Athletes due to Ingesting Banned Substances is About to Get a Major Re-think

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has dismissed the application of the World Anti-Doping Agency and Sport Integrity Australia, who challenged the reduced suspension of Australian swimmer, Shayna Jack.

Shayna Jack was part of the Australian Swim Team in 2019, when she tested positive for the banned substance Ligandrol and she was suspended from swimming for 4 years. Ms Jack strongly asserted her innocence, and after a lengthy court battle, her suspension was reduced to 2 years, and it was this reduction in her suspension that was challenged by the anti-doping bodies.

The big questions now are:

  • how will this effect possible changes to doping regulations in sport going forward and
  • how will it alter the challenges of others who have been banned from their sport on grounds they dispute, or where the banned substances had been ingested without the knowledge of the accused.

Over the years, the onerous rules regarding the taking of drugs in sport have landed very much with the athletes, under a building cloud of increased levels of technology in testing. Substances so minute can now be detected they could well be ingested from a myriad of sources with indeed no prior knowledge of the athlete in question. If the substance detected is so minute as to make it totally ineffective in any performance enhancing capacity, should that be grounds for suspension?

We look forward to learning the basis on which the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed the appeals of both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Sport Integrity Australia. Hopefully it will establish precedents on which others who know themselves to be wrongly accused, or innocent of any deliberate doping to enhance their performance, can call upon to seek redress.

Sport is a global commodity and the revelations of this judgement will be far reaching. They are bound to have members on both sides of the argument reviewing how they will conduct this vital area of sport regulation going forward.

Performance enhancing drug-taking is rightfully banned, but the wrongful suspension of innocent athletes and the decimation of their reputations and careers is equally of serious concern.

Koffels Solicitors & Barristers are members of both the Australia New Zealand Sports Law Association (ANZSLA) and the Global Sports Law Group, providing legal advice to sporting bodies and athletes both locally, and around the world.

If the issues that have arisen due to this new ruling concerning drugs in sport effect you or your organisation, we have the experienced and we are here to help you navigate this vital area of regulation in sport. It is not a simplistic legal argument and we urge those effected to seek legal advice. How you deal with this either as an athlete or sports administrator will need a careful and considered approach.

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