Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Spanish Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Marta Domínguez against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which argued that blood tests carried out on her between 2009 and 2013 violated her privacy and data protection rights. Domínguez sought for the IAAF to erase all data obtained from her blood tests, as well as compensation of €12,000. She also initially sued the Spanish athletics federation (RFEA).
In a 1 June ruling, the Civil Chamber of Spain’s Supreme Court reasoned that ‘an elite athlete, when engaging in this activity, necessarily accepts the limitations of their right to privacy relating to the taking of samples such as urine or blood tests and the processing of data obtained from the analysis of such samples, when necessary for the fight against doping’. The ruling added that it was the athlete’s own decision to subject themselves to legal regulations which limit their fundamental rights in the field of elite sport.
The ruling added that as Domínguez was Vice President of the RFEA during the period in which the anti-doping controls were taken, she ‘could not ignore’ that the submission to anti-doping controls and the data obtained from that – including analysis of series of data over time – was necessary for the fight against doping. It also added that the blood tests were obtained voluntarily, not ‘thorough the use of violence or intimidation’.
In March 2013, the IAAF informed the RFEA of atypical values in Domínguez’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP). Explanations provided by Domínguez and the REFA were not accepted by the IAAF, which provisionally suspended Domínguez and said that a four-year sanction would be imposed due to ‘aggravating circumstances’. In a February 2014 hearing, the RFEA Sports Disciplinary Committee acquitted Dominguez and lifted her suspension.
In April 2014, the IAAF filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the RFEA decision to clear Domínguez, and in May, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) launched its own CAS appeal. In November 2015, a CAS panel ruled ‘that none of the explanations offered by the RFEA or Marta Domínguez were sufficient for the Panel not to be comfortably satisfied by the scientific evidence presented by WADA and the IAAF’s experts that an anti-doping rule violation had occurred’.
The Panel determined that a three-year sanction was more appropriate than a four-year sanction, and set aside the RFEA decision. Although a 2015 CAS statement said that the full award would be published on the CAS internet site ‘in the coming weeks’, the decision does not appear to have been published.
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