CAS defends its position in Claudia Pechstein doping case

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The legal challenge in Germany over five-time Olympic speedskating champion Claudia Pechstein’s doping case endangers the entire international arbitration system, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Friday.

CAS issued its first statement addressing the decision of a Munich appeals court in January to allow Pechstein to go ahead with a lawsuit seeking damages from the International Skating Union.

The Munich ruling went against CAS, which had supported a two-year ban imposed on Pechstein in 2009 despite her denials of doping. The CAS ruling was upheld twice by the Swiss Federal Tribunal after appeals by Pechstein.

”Claudia Pechstein had a fair trial, not only before the CAS panel but also before the SFT, and the judgment of the SFT, which remains in force, should have settled this matter definitively in 2010,” the CAS statement said. ”Proper procedures were applied and followed at all times.”

CAS said it is the body identified by the World Anti-Doping Agency as the final arbiter in doping disputes.

”The fact that state courts would reopen cases involving their national athletes endangers the international effectiveness and the harmony of the decisions rendered in disciplinary matters related to sport,” CAS said.

With a total of nine Olympic medals, Pechstein is Germany’s most decorated Winter Olympian. She still competes at age 43.

Pechstein was banned because of irregular blood results, although she never failed a drug test. The skater has always denied doping accusations and insists her blood values are due to a genetic condition.

Pechstein is demanding 4.4 million euros ($5.18 million) from the ISU in compensation for lost income during her suspension.

A commission appointed by the German Olympic Committee concluded that medical evidence on Pechstein’s blood results does not prove doping.

Munich court judge Rainer Zwirlein said in the January ruling that the impartiality of CAS was questionable because sports federations had the priority in naming judges to the body.

The ruling potentially opened the door for other athletes to go to a civil court rather than accept CAS decisions.

CAS said if arbitration agreements can be ruled invalid by state courts ”then the principles of international arbitration would be compromised.”

CAS said it has started talks with the German Olympic Committee and contacted its athletes’ commission to explain the body’s operations and procedures.