Today’s the delay

Monday, 30 January 2012

Another day, another delay. This time the CAS has put out announcement:

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) it intends to publish its decision in the arbitration procedure involving the International Cycling Union (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Alberto Contador and the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) on Monday 6 February 2012.

But even this was followed with an ominous phrase that “a confirmation as to the date and time of the publication of the decision will be given” suggesting the date isn’t set in stone. Although optimists will note that the CAS is now talking about the time, we’re getting more and more precise.

The CAS is in no rush here, it has no incentive to hurry cases.

Why the delay? There’s no mention. Indeed today’s announcement is not stricty a delay. Earlier this month the CAS said “the publication of the final decision should now take place during the week of 31 January 2012“, note the conditional tense. Instead of this week, it’s next week. Given Contador tested positive 550 days ago, a week isn’t a big deal.

As for why this has taken 550 days, there are two answers. First, every party involved has either used the maximum time allotted to them or they’ve asked for more time (more here) which explains why it took so long to get to the hearing. Second the arguments are sophisticated. There is no smoking gun. Neither side of the appeal seems to have firm evidence, instead they have hypotheses and arguments based on statistical probability (more here) which explains why each stage is taking so long.

Note the CAS is in no rush here. It is there to arbitrate and if this takes time, so be it. It’s not there to support the image for pro cycling and it has the monopoly on appeals, sports like cycling don’t go elsewhere for faster verdicts. It can expedite cases if all sides want this but this case is a complex one that can’t be rushed. CAS has little incentive to expedite this, especially when set against the complex legal arguments. Indeed CAS’s own code contains no mention of time limits, it is up to the panel to deliberate with as much time as they like.

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{ 8 comments }

Touriste-Routier January 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

No one, except the arbitrators, know if they are still deliberating. If CAS works like the American Arbitration Association, they also compose a written report of their findings. The delay could be in the production of this document, as it might need to be signed off by the entire 3 person panel. With multiple arbitrators are involved, coordinating schedules becomes increasingly difficult.

Nonetheless, the continuous delays are frustrating to most of us.

Larry T. January 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm

A year and a half for this “final” decision. And will it be FINAL when announced? I doubt it as if OJ, ooops, “Il Pistolero” gets off, many will be left unsatisfied as there’s no issue of whether or not he had the banned substance in his sample, just whether they accept his “it was the beef” excuse. If he gets sanctioned it’s hard to believe he won’t be taking it to the next level, the Human Rights council or whatever it’s called, and probably “winning” more races while that’s argued. Meanwhile there will be those who either believe his beef alibi or argue that the amount of the banned substance was too small to make him guilty of breaking the rules. Pro cycling looks like a joke either way.

Feargal January 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Why do I feel like a decision has not only been reached but has been passed to all the interested parties, one or all of whom have asked for a delay in the announcement to either prepared (spin) their positions/appeal or simply to leak the result before the CAS can officially release it…or maybe I have been watching too many X-Files re-runs

Tom January 31, 2012 at 12:36 am

I don’t really care anymore.

Ken January 31, 2012 at 3:00 am

Justice delayed is justice denied. One might argue a prosecution based on such arcane and debatable evidence would fail to meet a reasonable doubt standard. But, what do we Americans know?

Alan January 31, 2012 at 6:56 am

Here in the US, we have a jeer for this:

“BULLLLSSSHHHHHIIITTTTT!!!!!!! BULLLLSSSHHHHHIIITTTTT!!!!!!! BULLLLSSSHHHHHIIITTTTT!!!!!!! BULLLLSSSHHHHHIIITTTTT!!!!!!!”

Repeat until the referee or umpire turns red and the TV/radio announcers stop trying to drown it out and look at each other uncomfortably.

Bundle January 31, 2012 at 11:24 am

I want to see A.C. sanctioned. He’s a cheater, and although he might have been a clever one at that, he wasn’t so clever in 2010. But I’d prefer him being cleared within one month of the infraction than sanctioned 1 and 1/2 years later. This is not about justice: it’s mere sports refereeing, where mistakes are possible, but delays are unacceptable.

Guy February 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

For such cases there should be a clear timeline, irrespective of complexity. First judgement within 6 months of the alleged infraction. Final hearing, given an appeal, within 9 months.

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