The Sports Litigation Alert recently published this summary of the Caroline Maher case:
Court of Arbitration for Sport Clears Athlete of Doping Charges, Makes Governing Body Pay Attorney Fees
In a decision that reverberated throughout the Olympic community, The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that all charges against Caroline Maher, an Egyptian Taekwondo athlete, who was sanctioned after a drug test allegedly came back positive, have been dismissed.
The CAS also ordered the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to pay $20,000 for Maher's legal fees and expenses incurred during the arbitration proceedings, an extraordinary result by CAS standards.
Maher, 25, was born in Egypt and began competing in the sport of Taekwondo at 10 years of age. She narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008, and has been focused on representing Egypt in the London 2012 Olympic Games. In December of 2010, Maher was directed to report for Out-of-Competition drug testing to be performed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Maher was ill with a common cold at the time of the testing and reported the medicines prescribed by her family doctor (none of which were banned Out-of-Competition) to the WADA Doping Control Officer. Five months after being testing, Maher was told that her A Sample had apparently tested positive for steroids. Her B Sample was never tested. In August, Maher was informed that she had been banned for two years for an anti-doping violation without a hearing.
Throughout the fall, Maher challenged the ruling, but was rebuffed by the WTF. In November of 2011, the WTF released the WADA lab report, which seriously questioned the integrity of the urine samples and was highly skeptical of the results. Under duress, the WTF withdrew the two-year sanction it had levied against Maher. It made the decision on the eve of a CAS hearing scheduled to take place in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The CAS Panel noted the unusual circumstances surrounding Maher's appeal in justifying its punitive decision. The WTF suspended Maher for two years without any reliable evidence or an internal hearing. In doing so, the WTF failed to live up to its duties as an internationally recognized sports federation under the World Anti-Doping Code.
The panel, which included English barrister the Honorable Michael J. Beloff MA QC and well-known sports law attorney Maide Oliveau, emphasized that it was of vital importance for an international federation to ensure that “any athlete charged with a doping violation be accorded the full procedural protection guaranteed by the [Code].”
Attorneys of Record: (for appellant) Paul Greene of Preti Flaherty in Portland, Maine.