With the Sochi Olympics recently coming to an end and Team Canada having fantastic results, it is interesting to note that one potential medal for Canada was denied due to legal reasons.
In 1981, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) was established to oversee international sports-related disputes. This entity hears a number of different disputes and has been involved in many Olympic related issues. Their most recent decision came out of the Sochi games in relation to a men’s ski cross competition. Athletes from France swept the podium in the competition with Canadian Brady Leman finishing 4th.
Representatives for Canada and Slovenia (whose athlete finished 6th in the competition) brought the matter to CAS. They cited that the ski suits worn by the French competitors did not conform to the Olympic standards in that a disallowed illegal technique was used to make the ski suits more aerodynamic, thereby giving an added advantage to the French competitors. Initial complaints were disallowed by the International Ski Federation on the basis that the complaint was made too late. Two days following the competition, the CAS heard the appeal of this matter. The decision was ultimately dismissed with the CAS agreeing that the initial complaint was not filed in a timely manner.
In the sport, by rule an initial complaint of this nature must be launched within 15 minutes of the posting of the race results. In this case the complaint was initially mentioned to the ski federation approximately 80 minutes following the race. Based on the late response, the appeal was denied and based on this the CAS opted not to rule on whether or not the French ski suits provided an advantage outside of the rules of the sport. Had the appeal been allowed, Canada likely would have had an additional gold medal.