Bakers, Blackstone to fight BOA corner over Olympics doping ban

Baker & McKenzie and Blackstone Chambers are acting for the British Olympic Association (BOA) as it goes to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), seeking to preserve its 19-year-old bylaw permanently excluding athletes guilty of doping offences from participating at the Olympics.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) contests that the BOA’s lifetime ban is ‘illegal’ on the grounds that it amounts to a second punishment over the mandatory two-year exclusion period laid down by WADA, to which the BOA is a signatory.

Baker & McKenzie partner Tom Cassels alongside Blackstone’s David Pannick QC and Adam Lewis QC will argue on behalf of the BOA that the bylaw is a selection policy rather than an extra punishment, and that it is widely supported by GB athletes.

Should WADA win the case, it could mean that banned athletes such as sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar will be allowed to compete in next summer’s Olympic Games.

In September the CAS ruled in favour of US athlete LaShawn Merritt, overturning a similar International Olympic Committee rule which sought to prevent athletes who had served a ban of six months or more for drug use from competing in the Olympics.

In a statement BOA chairman Lord Colin Moynihan said: “It is a policy that reflects the culture and character of Team GB. The BOA and British Olympic athletes do not consider that those who have deliberately cheated should represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games.”

In 2008 Baker & McKenzie acted for the BOA in its successful defence of injunction proceedings brought by Chambers in the High Court, as he sought to overturn the bylaw.