Pechstein ruling threatens sport's arbitration system, says CAS

Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:54pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

BERNE (Reuters) - A German court decision to allow a lawsuit from speed skater Claudia Pechstein related to her doping ban could upset the entire sporting disciplinary system, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Friday.

CAS, sport's highest tribunal, said that if other countries followed suit, it could lead to a situation where athletes were able compete in some countries and not others, threatening the credibility of sport in general.

Five-times Olympic champion Pechstein was banned by the International Skating Union (ISU) for two years in 2009 over irregular blood results, although the German never failed a drugs test.

CAS rejected her appeal as did the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT). However, a Munich court said in January it would allow the 43-year-old Pechstein to go ahead with a lawsuit demanding more than four million euros ($4.37 million) in damages over lost earnings.

The Munich court said in a statement that its ruling "did not recognize the decision by CAS", adding that the ISU decision on the ban was "void".

"Claudia Pechstein had a fair trial, not only before the CAS Panel but also before the SFT, and the judgment of the SFT, which remains in force, should have settled this matter definitively in 2010," CAS said in a statement.

"(She) decided voluntarily to refer her case to CAS and neither challenged the CAS jurisdiction...... nor the arbitrators comprising the arbitral Panel.

"If, like in the Pechstein/ISU case, arbitration agreements were to be considered as invalid by state courts.....then the basic principles of international arbitration would be compromised," it added.   Continued...

Germany's Claudia Pechstein competes during the women's 3000m speed skating ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final in Erfurt March 22, 2015.  REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch