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CAS award confirming suspension of Russian Paralympic Committee following Sochi doping scandal upheld

27 April 2017

Authors: Nathalie Voser, Katherine Bell


In a decision dated 3 April 2017, the Swiss Supreme Court rejected a request to set aside an award rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) for allegedly violating the Russian Paralympic Committee's (RPC's) right to be heard and for being incompatible with substantive public policy.

The Supreme Court held that the CAS did not unduly disregard the RPC's assertion that the individual rights of the Russian paralympic athletes had been violated. The Supreme Court reiterated that an arbitral award is only contrary to public policy if it disregards or is incompatible with fundamental legal principles that constitute the basis of any legal system. In the present case, the Supreme Court found that the RPC failed to substantiate the alleged incompatibility of the CAS award with public policy.

The Supreme Court could not render a decision on the core issue: the alleged violation of the paralympic athletes' individual rights. This was so despite the fact that the RPC had attempted to assert the individual athletes' rights on their behalf as a reason to set-aside the CAS award because only the RPC was a party to the proceedings, and not the affected athletes themselves.

A decision by the Supreme Court on the merits of the suspension of Russian athletes based on the doping allegations contained in the McLaren Report is yet to be rendered. (Decision 4A_470/2016.)


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