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Georgetown Law Library

Olympics and International Sports Law Research Guide

This guide is for researching the legal aspects of the Olympic Games. General international sports law resources are also included.

Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS)

OVERVIEW

With the substantial economic and commercial impact of international sports comes the increased likelihood of dispute. In 1983, the IOC established the Court of Arbitration for Sport(CAS) as a court with specialized knowledge in the field of sports. CAS is also know by its French name, Tribunal Arbitral du Sport (TAS). Disputes concerning game rules, disqualifications, and other technical questions are settled by the relevant sport body (IF, IOC, national sport organization, for example). Non-technical issues (such as sponsorships, suspension, etc) are settled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In 1994, CAS underwent substantial changes in its structure and procedures. From 1983 until 1994, CAS was monitored and solely funded by the IOC. In 1994, the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) was formed to administer and fund CAS. This change secured the independent status of CAS. The creation of ICAS and the changes in the structure of CAS were finalized in a document called the Paris Agreement. For a printed version of this agreement, see Digest of CAS Awards II 1998-2000 (Mattieu Reeb, ed. 2002), page 883 located in the Wolff Library at K3702.C68 2002.

The Code of Sports-related Arbitration spells out the two divisions of CAS: the Ordinary Arbitration Division and the Appeals Arbitration Division. The Ordinary Division functions as a court of sole instance. The Appeals Division hears cases brought to it on appeal from the various IFs and other sports organizations. CAS also has the power to issue advisory opinions. In rare instances, CAS decisions can be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal. In addition to ordinary and appeals divisions, CAS forms special ad hoc divisions to hear urgent cases that arise during the Olympic Games. The turn-around time for arbitration decisions made by the ad hoc division is as short as 24 hours.

Parties generally agree to refer their disputes to CAS in their individual arbitration agreements. All Olympic IFs except one, and many of the NOCs have included a CAS arbitration clause in their agreements.

CAS ARBITRAL AWARDS

CAS hears cases on a variety of subjects, including doping, issues of nationality, advertising sponsorship, judging matters and other subjects of a commercial or disciplinary nature. Web and print access to published CAS awards are explained below.

CAS arbitral awards are published on the CAS Case law page and are divided into recent decisions and archived decisions. Selected awards are published in print in the following publications. Not all older awards are published. Awards are selected for publication on the basis of their impact on CAS case law and on sports law in general. All awards are usually published in both English and French, the two official languages of CAS.

  • Recueil des sentences du TAS: Digest of CAS Awards: 1986-1998 INTL K3702 .C68 1998
  • Recueil des sentences du TAS: Digest of CAS Awards II : 1998-2000 INTL K3702 .C68 2002
  • Recueil des sentences du TAS: Digest of CAS Awards III: 2001-2003 INTL K3702 .C68 2004
  • CAS Awards - Sydney INTL K3702 .C863 2000
    Since 1996, there is a CAS ad hoc division at each Olympic games to settle disputes within 24 hours. For the Sydney games, CAS published this separate volume to document the fifteen cases. Selected decisions from other Olympics are published in Recueil des sentences du TAS: Digest of CAS Awards above and on the CAS web site.