16 Sep 2021
- CAS 2020/A/7579 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) v. Swimming Australia (SA), Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) & Shayna Jack; and
- CAS 2020/A/7580 SIA v. Shayna Jack & SA
CAS A1_2020 Shayna Jack vs Swimming Australia & ASADA
November 16, 2020
- Aquatics (swimming)
- Doping (ligandrol)
- Proof of lack of intent
- Standard of proof for a panel deciding on a reduction of ineligibility
- Indiscriminate effect of the rules
- Lack of intent
- Type of proof
- Assessment of the evidence
1. Athletes who have committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) and seek to reduce the period of ineligibility under Article 10.2.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) need to prove both that they did not intentionally use a prohibited substance and (on the assumption that the explanation given in Article 10.2.3 is binding) that they did not take the risk of using a substance which might lead to an ADRV.
2. In reaching a decision as to whether an appellant deserves a reduction of ineligibility, it is sufficient that a CAS panel base this conclusion on a simple balance of probability, because this is not a decision involving the imposition of disciplinary measure, but rather a reduction of its consequences.
3. The one-size-fits-all characteristics of the rule on reduction of ineligibility may tempt adjudicating bodies to make allowances for specific circumstances – such as the great difference from sport to sport of the likelihood of being able to compete at an elite international level of competition, and thus the different impact of the same period of ineligibility on athletes whose international competitiveness may be of greatly contrasting duration given the physical demands of their sport. But the time and place for making such allowances is when such rules are drafted (and amended), not in making individual decisions.
4. The establishment of the source of the prohibited substance in an athlete’s sample is not mandated in order to prove an absence of intent. In other words, it is possible to prove – albeit with much difficulty – innocent exposure to prohibited substance in the absence of a credible identification of its source. However, as certitude with respect to the source of contamination decreases, so the athlete’s chances of prevailing depend on a counterbalancing increase of the implausibility of bad motive and negligence. The doping hypothesis must no longer (on a balance of probability) make sense in all the circumstances, and the charge of recklessness must (on a balance of probability) be overcome. This can be proved by any means. Identification of the source is often important (but not in and of itself sufficient), but it is not indispensable.
5. Speculations, declarations of a clear conscience, and character references are not sufficient proof. It is an unacceptable paradox to posit that the effect of the apparent unavailability of objective and probative evidence is to give an athlete the same benefit as if s/he had found and presented it. However, if uncorroborated speculation is said not to avail an accused athlete; it should not in fairness avail the accuser either.
6. Assessing evidence in a manner that (i) begins with the science and then (ii) considers the totality of the evidence (iii) through the prism of common sense, possibly (iv) “bolstered” by the athlete’s credibility, is a process that appears to be legitimate as a way of achieving its intended effect of enforcing the rules without finding comfort in the cynical view that occasional harm done to an innocent athlete is acceptable collateral damage.
On 16 November 2020 the Oceania Registry Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decided to impose a 2 year period of ineligibility on the Australian swimmer Shayna Jack after she tested positive for the prohibited substance LGD-4033 (Ligandrol).
In this first instance case the Sole Arbitrator deemed that the Athlete could not demonstrate how the prohibited substance had entered her system but he was willing to accept that the violation was not intentional.
Hereafter the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) appealed this Decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Appeals Division. They requested the Panel to set aside the Appealed Decision and to impose a 4 year period of ineligibility on the Athlete.
WADA and SIA challenged the Appealed Decision on the grounds that while the Sole Arbitrator acknowledged that in order to reduce the period of ineligibility from 4 years to 2 years the Athlete had the burden to demonstrate that the ADRV was not intentional.
WADA and SIA contended that the Sole Arbitrator erred in relying excessively on the Athlete’s credibility to conclude that she had met that burden and in too readily accepting an absence of intent.
The Panel finds that the Appealed Decision, for all its admirable qualities of discernment and exposition, is not in accordance with the Policy and with what the Panel perceives as consistent strands of leading decisions which contribute to the uniformity of application which is desirable in the international community of elite sports.
The Panel nevertheless upholds the ultimate holding of that Decision in favour of the Athlete, on what it deems to be the balance of probability. It is a close call made with considerable hesitation, indeed by a majority decision with respect to the decisive issue of recklessness under the fact of this case, but close calls must be made, and it favors her for the reasons set forth below.
Therefore the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides on 16 September 2021 that:
- The appeal filed by Sport Integrity Australia on 7 December 2021 against Ms Shayna Jack and Swimming Australia Limited concerning the Award rendered in the procedure CAS A1/2020 on 16 November 2020 is dismissed.
- The appeal filed by the World Anti-Doping Agency on 7 December 2021 against Sport Integrity Australia, Swimming Australia and Ms Shayna Jack concerning the Award rendered in the procedure CAS A1/2020 on 16 November 2020 is dismissed.
- The Athlete’s Period of Ineligibility of two years, commencing on 12 July 2019, determined in the Award CAS A1/2020 on 16 November 2020, is confirmed for the reasons set out in the present Award.
- All other motions or prayers for relief are dismissed.