CAS 2018/A/5913 Sabina Ashirbayeva v. International Gymnastics Federation (FIG)
- Gymnastics (rhythmic)
- Doping (furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, chlorothiazide)
- Athletes’ duty of care to avoid ingestion of prohibited substances
- Communication of an athlete’s admission to the competent sanctioning body
- Difference between a plea for mercy and a plea in mitigation
1. An athlete’s duty to take care to avoid an ingestion of prohibited substances axiomatically arises before ingestion, not after it. A breach of that duty cannot be cured by a prompt repentance and avoidance of repetition to which an appellant testifies.
2. While the applicable anti-doping rules do not expressly read that an athlete’s admission, to have any legal relevance, must be communicated to the relevant governing body as opposed to some unrelated third party, no contrary conclusion can be reached. It is an athlete’s duty to ensure that any such admission is communicated to it.
3. A plea for mercy invites a decision outside the relevant rules whereas a plea in mitigation invites a decision within them.
On 6 August 2018 the Disciplinary Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) decided to impose a 2 year period of ineligibility on the Kazakh Athlete Sabina Ashirbayeva for multiple anti-doping rule violations. Following notification in June 2018 the Athlete failed to respond to the charges, nor participated in the proceedings.
In this case the Athlete's 4 separate samples tested positive for prohibited substances:
- Furosemide in April 2017;
- Hydrochlorothiazide and Clorothiazide in April 2017
- Hydrochlorothiazide in June 2017;
- Furosemide in June 2017.
Hereafter in August 2018 the Athlete appealed the FIG Decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). She requested the Panel to set aside the Appealed Decision and plead for a reduced sanction.
The Athlete admitted the violation and denied the intentional use of the substances. She explained that these substances had been used as prescribed medication to relieve swelling in connenction with her disease.
She asserted that in June 2017 she had filed a voluntary early admission of her violations. She alleged that thereupon the sports officials failed to inform the FIG or WADA about this early admission.
The FIG accepted that the Athlete's violations were not intentional and to be considered as one single first violation. Further the FIG contended that the Athlete failed to establish that she had communicated a prompt admission.
Following assessment of the evidence and the Athlete's conduct in this case the Sole Arbitrator determines that:
- The Athlete's violation was not intentional;
- The Athlete already had received a reduced sanction of 2 years;
- She failed to establish that she bears No Significant Fault or Negligence;
- It was the Athlete's duty to ensure that any early admission was communicated to the FIG.
- The Athlete's plea for mercy invites a decision outside the relevant rules whereas a plea in mitigation invites a decision within them.
Therefore the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides on 6 March 2019 that:
1.) The appeal filed by Mrs Sabina Ashirbayeva (“the Appellant”) on 14th August 2018 against the decision rendered by Disciplinary Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation on 6th August 2018 is dismissed.
2.) The decision rendered by Disciplinary Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation on 6th August 2018 in the case related to Mrs Sabina Ashirbayeva is confirmed and upheld.
5.) All other motions or prayers for relief are dismissed.