22nd November 2017

Ban on dopers’ use of OLY to only cover duration of ban

The World Olympians Association (WOA) has confirmed that a ban on the use of the post-nominal letters OLY to recognise athletes have competed in the Olympics will only cover the duration of doping bans. This means that athletes who have served a ban, but subsequently compete in the Olympics, would be eligible to apply to use OLY.

‘The right to use OLY depends upon Olympians adhering to both the IOC Code of Ethics and the WOA Code of Conduct, and anyone found to be in breach of those documents will be ineligible to use OLY’, wrote a WOA spokesperson in an email. ‘In determining such breaches, WOA will adhere to decisions handed down by the IOC, WADA, CAS, and other official bodies, who all follow the course of natural justice including the right to appeal. The duration and severity of any ban will also mirror that stipulated by these bodies.’

The WOA recently announced that over 3,000 Olympians have applied to use the post-nominal letters since their introduction on 11 November. When pressed on whether the above statement meant that the WOA would only be able to block Olympians from using OLY for the duration of their bans, the spokesperson repeated that the WOA would be ‘guided by any sanctions handed down by the relevant governing bodies, their own WOA Code of Conduct and the IOC Code of Ethics’.

The WOA confirmed that Ato Bolden OLY (Athletics, TRI), Ronald Rossi OLY (Luge, USA), International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member Nicole Hoevertsz OLY (Synchronised Swimming, ARU), Konstantin Schad OLY (Snowboard Cross, GER), Dame Kelly Holmes OLY (Athletics, GBR), and Hanae Ito OLY (Swimming, JPN) have registered for the post nominal letters. At time of publication, it was unable to confirm if any Olympians who had served a ban had applied to use the letters.

Any attempt to block an athlete who had served a doping ban and subsequently competed in the Olympics from applying for and using OLY would likely be subject to challenge in a court of law. Such a block would appear to fit the legal definition of double jeopardy (ne bis in idem), which prevents double punishment for the same offence. In 2011, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) struck out the IOC ‘Osaka Rule’, or Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter, which attempted to ban athletes who had served a doping sanction from competing in future editions of the Olympics.

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