Media Release

Federation Internationale de Football Association

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CAS confirms FIFA's individual case management in doping matters

In a legal opinion published today (24 April 2006), the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed FIFA's practice of using individual case management when sanctioning doping offences. At the same time, the independent sports arbitration body with headquarters in Lausanne (Switzerland) has also ruled that FIFA's provisions with regard to the fight against doping and the sanctioning of doping offences are, to the greatest possible extent, in line with the World Anti-Doping Code, and that they are also fully in line with Swiss law.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter welcomed the opinion of CAS and thanked the legal experts in Lausanne for their work. "With this legal opinion, which FIFA itself sought, CAS has laid the foundations for resolving any differences that exist with regard to the World Anti-Doping Code. As an international sports federation and as a member of the International Olympic Committee, FIFA is fully aware that it is bound by the Olympic Charter. FIFA will attempt to solve any differences on its own initiative, especially as CAS jurisprudence also applies the World Anti-Doping Code in line with the principle of individual case management."

In its 80-page opinion, which is not legally binding on the two parties, CAS noted that FIFA's principle of using individual case management in doping matters complies with the World Anti-Doping Code. CAS also compared FIFA's provisions with those of the World Anti-Doping Code in 22 main areas. In 16 points, including the definition of doping, the strict liability principle, the list of prohibited substances, therapeutic use exemptions, testing and analysis, hearings, commencement of the ineligibility period, and disqualification provisions regarding teams, CAS ruled that there were no material differences between the two sets of regulations.

Furthermore, CAS noted that although FIFA is bound by the Olympic Charter, neither the International Olympic Committee (IOC) nor WADA has the right to dictate to FIFA as regards the latter's disciplinary regulations for the fight against doping and the sanctioning of doping offences. According to CAS, international sports federations are free to establish such provisions as they deem appropriate, especially as CAS also noted that the World Anti-Doping Code is not legally binding per se.

According to CAS, there are differences in six areas between FIFA's provisions and the World Anti-Doping Code, although CAS only highlighted significant deviations in three of these points. CAS came to the general conclusion that with regard to the approach used to determine the level of punishment to be imposed, there are no considerable differences between the two sets of regulations. With regard to the two-year punishment that the World Anti-Doping Code regards as the standard and FIFA as the maximum punishment, and in terms of the minimum punishment of six months (FIFA) and one year (WADA), CAS also noted that there was a difference that cannot be resolved solely by recourse to jurisprudence.

With regard to possibly eliminating a sanction in cases in which an athlete proves that he did not act with fault or negligence, CAS recommended that FIFA incorporate an appropriate provision in its regulations and not impose sanctions on athletes who prove that a prohibited substance entered his body through no fault or negligence of his own. FIFA, however, argues that it already has such a practice in place with the principle of guilt.

In addition, FIFA was advised to adapt its regulations to clarify WADA's right of appeal against procedures followed in final-instance decisions. Conversely, it was noted that with its provision regarding the statute of limitations, the World Anti-Doping Agency's code is not in line with Swiss law.

In September 2005, FIFA, acting on its own initiative, contacted CAS to seek a legal opinion as to the extent to which the World Anti-Doping Agency's code complied with Swiss law. In its submission, WADA claimed that FIFA's provisions regarding the fight against doping and the sanctioning of doping offences showed significant deviations from the World Anti-Doping Code.

FIFA believes that this legal opinion from CAS has laid the foundations for it to make the necessary adjustments to the relevant provisions independently. FIFA will, however, invite the CAS panel to join a working group and help to make these adjustments.