CAS 2008_A_1625 Rodrigo Souto vs CONMEBOL & FIFA

CAS 2008/A/1625 Rodrigo Souto v. Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) & Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

Doping (benzoylecgonine)
Breach of the right to be heard
Breach of doping procedural provisions

1. The right to be heard which is expressly recognised in the applicable FIFA Doping Control Regulations, shall be considered as a procedural principle universally recognised in all fields of law, and as such shall be respected in any case. A player’s right to be heard in a football private association’s doping procedure is disregarded when the player is unable to produce allegations and to express his position at any stage. The violation of the player’s fundamental right to be heard renders the procedure followed before the football association null and void, which implies that the outcome of the mentioned proceedings (i.e. the sanction imposed to the player) is left without effect.

2. According to the applicable regulations, a breach of doping procedural provisions occurs when the analysis of the sample has taken place in a laboratory which is not accredited by WADA. In such case, the legal steps and proceedings have not been observed and the result of the doping control cannot be considered as a valid result justifying a sanction.

In June 2008 the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has reported an anti-doping rule violation against the Brazilian professional football player Rodrigo Souto after his A and B samples tested positive for the prohibited substance Cocaine. As a result on 9 July 2008 CONMEBOL imposed a 2 year period of ineligibility on the Athlete. This sanction was extended worldwide by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 18 July 2008.

Hereafter in July 2008 the Athlete appealed the CONMEBOL decision of 9 July 2008 with the FIFA Appeal Committee. On 21 August 2008 the FIFA Appeal Committee decided to revoke the worldwide extension of the sanction on the basis that the Athlete's right to be heard was not respected. Further the Appeal Committee regards that the Athlete's A-sample was tested in a Laboratory in Montevideo, Uruguay which is not accredited by WADA and not in accordance with the FIFA Rules.

In July 2008 the Athlete also filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and requested the Panel to set aside the decision of 9 July 2008. The Athlete argued that his fundamental right to be heard has been violated in the proceedings before CONMEBOL and that several irregularities occurred.

The Panel establish that Athlete's right to be heard was indeed disregarded by CONMEBOL and holds that there were no alleged infringements of the Rules during the sample collection procedure. The Panel agrees that the analysis of the A-sample was not carried out in a laboratory accredited by WADA. Consequently the Panel deems that the breaches of rights and procedural irregularities are clear and indisputable.

Therefore the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides on 19 February 2009:

1.) The decision of CONMEBOL dated 9th July 2008 imposing a sanction of two years of suspension on Mr. Rodrigo Ribeiro Souto is set aside.
2.) All other prayers for relief are dismissed.

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CAS Appeal Awards
19 February 2009
De Buen Rodríguez Abogados, Ricardo
Echeverria Bermúdez, Margarita
Pintó, José Juan
Tribunal Arbitral du Sport (TAS) - Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
Adverse Analytical Finding / presence
Legal Terms
ADRV Notice
Procedural error
Right to be heard
Rules & regulations International Sports Federations
Football (FIFA) - International Football Federation
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Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) - South American Football Confederation
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Laboratório Brasileiro de Controle de Dopagem – LBCD – LADETEC / IQ - UFRJ
Analytical aspects
Accreditation of the testing laboratory
B sample analysis
Testing results set aside
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S1. Anabolic Agents
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