CAS 2010/A/2090 Finnish Ski Association & Aino-Kaisa Saarinen v. FIS
On 20 December 2009, the FIS disqualified Ms Saarinen after a World Cup 15 km race at Rogla, Slovenia for a violation of the ICR Article 392.5 (intentional obstruction during a race).
On 22 December 2009, the Appeals Commission of the FIS dismissed her appeal.
On 5 March 2010, the FIS Court dismissed her further appeal against the decision of the Appeals Commission, that this appeal is brought.
On 1 April 2010, Ms Saarinen and the FSA filed their statement of appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The CAS Panel has no means (any more than the FIS Court did) of comparing Ms Saarinen's case with others of necessity unexplored before it. It is in any event axiomatic that reasonable people (including sporting bodies) may reasonably have different views as to the gravity of different breaches of the rules of the sports and the sanctions appropriate to them.
While CAS enjoys the power to form its own view on the proportionality of any sanction, it ought not to ignore the expertise of the bodies involved in the particular sport in determining what sanctions are appropriate to what offence. It is notable that in this case three separate ski bodies reached the same conclusion as to penalty even if by different routes. The Panel considers that the FIS Court had a margin of appreciation not exceeded in this case.
The Panel finds that Ms Saarinen can at least be consoled by this that on the finding of the FIS Court she was not guilty of a deliberate effort to frustrate in an improper manner a competitor. She was guilty only of an offence of lesser seriousness. She is an experienced, successful and well respected cross country skier. This incident has caused, the Panel trusts, only a transient blow to her reputation.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport rules on 7 February 2011 that:
1.) The appeal filed by the Finnish Ski Association & Aino-Kaisa Saarinen on 1 April 2010 is dismissed.
2.) The decision rendered by the FIS Court on 5 March 2010 is confirmed.