The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has spoken out against the legal challenge in Germany over five-time Olympic speed skating champion Claudia Pechstein's doping case and warned it compromises the "basic principles of international arbitration".
Sport's highest tribunal insisted the German multiple world and European medallist had a fair trial before its panel and the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) when they rejected her appeal against her two-year ban by the International Skating Union (ISU) over irregular blood results in 2009.
However Pechstein, who never failed a drugs test and put the irregularities in her biological passport down to an inherited condition from her father, is now able to go ahead with a lawsuit demanding €4.4 million (£3.19 million/$4.74 million) in damages for lost earnings in the period of her suspension following a decision by the Appeals Court of Munich in January.
The Munich court said it would not accept the verdict of the CAS because the "arbitration agreement in dispute is invalid because it violates mandatory antitrust law".
The ruling marked the first time a German civil court has allowed a case to be heard after CAS has ruled against it and the world's top sports court is now warning the move sets a precedent for potential similar cases.
"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 said in a statement.
"Claudia Pechstein, who was represented by a team of lawyers, decided voluntarily to refer her case to CAS and neither challenged the CAS jurisdiction, nor the President of the CAS Appeals Division, nor the arbitrators comprising the arbitral Panel, although she could have done it if she had any doubt about the independence of the CAS or its arbitrators at that time.
"Later, as she was unhappy with the outcome of the arbitration, she appealed twice before the SFT which confirmed the validity of the CAS award...
"If, like in the Pechstein/ISU case, arbitration agreements were to be considered as invalid by state courts, even when not challenged at any stage during the arbitration, then the basic principles of international arbitration would be compromised."
The CAS explained that it followed proper procedures at all times and did not breach the European Convention for Human Rights.
It also criticised the Munich Appeals Court findings as they are based on the CAS rules in force in 2009.
"[The findings] do not take into account the changes leading to the current organisation, with amended procedural rules regarding the nomination of arbitrators, development of the legal aid programme and the appointment of new ICAS Members not active in or connected to sports-bodies," CAS added.
CAS said it has started talks with the German Olympic Sports Confederation and has contacted the representatives of its athletes' commission to explain the CAS operation and procedures.
It also presented the CAS system to the Sports Commission of the German Parliament in connection to the discussion related to the draft anti-doping law in the country, which currently dictates that the resolution of disputes occur through arbitration.
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February 2015: Nick Butler: To what extent should we forgive doping cheats?