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Doping charges against Lance Armstrong's former team director: ambiguous CAS decision examined

23 March 2016

Authors: Nathalie Voser; Anya George

In a French-­language decision dated 28 January 2016, published on 23 March 2016, the Swiss Supreme Court dismissed a challenge raised by Johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong's former team director, against a decision of the CAS relating to a 10­-year ban handed to Bruyneel for his role in the US Postal Service team's doping "conspiracy". The ban had already been upheld by an American Arbitration Association (AAA) panel, whose authority was challenged by Bruyneel. The CAS confirmed the AAA panel's authority in a decision that was communicated to the parties in a simple letter from the CAS Secretariat and was not signed by a member of the CAS panel. The Supreme Court found that this decision did not qualify as an award or as an interim decision on jurisdiction. As such, the decision was not open to a challenge under the Swiss Private International Law Act (PILA).
This unusual case, based on an unusual set of circumstances, contains some interesting obiter dicta on Article 186(3) of the PILA, a provision which has not been the subject of much scrutiny until now. Further, the fact that the CAS panel was acting as an appeal authority to another arbitral tribunal in this case (rather than the usual situation where it acts as an appeal authority for decisions taken by disciplinary boards of sports bodies) raises a whole set of additional issues that are not found in the majority of sports arbitration cases. (Decision 4A_222/2015.)

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Published in Practical Law Arbitration


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