The Court of Arbitration for Sport, the independent organization that facilitates sports-related disputes, will not hear any cases in-person until at least May 1 because of the “work disruptions caused by the Covid-19 in the world,” it announced Monday.
In some cases, video-conferencing is a possibility, as is asking for an award based on written materials. The organization will also not be accepting hard-copy documents, so all materials must be submitted electronically.
“CAS will not host any in-person hearing before 1 May 2020, at the earliest. Depending on the circumstances of each individual case, the arbitrators and parties are encouraged to conduct hearings by video-conference or to cancel them (final award on the basis of the written submissions),” the organization wrote. “If such measures are not possible or appropriate, the hearings must be postponed until May 2020 or later. Depending on the evolution of the Covid-19 outbreak, the prohibition of in-person hearings may be extended.”
The new timeline could affect Olympic swimming in a couple of pertinent ways, though concrete timelines for the following cases have yet to be made public.
First, CAS is set to hear the landmark case between the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency some time this spring. In February, CAS indicated that a timeline for the filing of written submissions had been established and will run through mid-April and that the hearing will not take place before the end of April.
That hearing will decide the fate of many Russian athletes at the 2020 Games and other major events over the next four years.
Second, 21-year-old Australian sprinter Shayna Jack was handed a four-year ban by the Australian Anti-Doping Authority last week and pledged to appeal her case to CAS. She tested positive for the banned substance Ligandrol last year, and the ban implies she was unable to prove a source of contamination and to convince ASADA that her ingestion was accidental.
The only Olympic qualifying competition for Australian swimmers is the 2020 Australian Swimming Trials, which are currently slated for June 14-June 19, so Jack’s case would need to be decided in time for her to compete if the Olympics are still on the table (as it relates to her situation and the COVID-19 pandemic).
The CAS is not known for acting particularly swiftly. For example, Sun Yang‘s public hearing was held in November 2019 following WADA‘s appeal in early March. The decision stemming from his undeniably complicated hearing, which was marred by translation issues, was released February 28.