Anatomy of the First Public International Sports Arbitration and the Future of Public Arbitration after USADA v. Floyd Landis
Yearbook on Arbitration and Mediation, Vol. 2, 2010
56 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 1, 2010
Mere weeks after American professional cyclist Floyd Landis seemingly won the 2006 Tour de France, the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA), under the authority granted to it by the U.S. Congress, and through its enforcement of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), accused him of having committed doping violations during the race. Landis vehemently denied these allegations, and accused the French laboratory that had performed the testing of his post-race samples, the Laboratoire National du Depistage du Dopage (LNDD), of bias and misconduct in his case.
Under USADA rules, an American athlete accused of doping may request an arbitration hearing before the American Arbitration Association (AAA), using the AAA Supplementary Procedures for the Arbitration of Olympic Doping Disputes. Although arbitration hearings are generally held in private, under these Supplementary Procedures, the athlete may choose to have this hearing open to the public. Landis requested a public hearing for his case, the first athlete to ever have done so.
This Article chronicles the public arbitration hearing in the Landis case, which was held at the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2007. Following its initial explanation of the regulatory and procedural framework involved when a U.S. athlete challenges a doping allegation, the Article describes the strategy and events leading up to Landis’ hearing, including the preparation, financing, and publicizing of Landis’ defense, the selection of the arbitration panel, and key pre-hearing rulings related to procedure and discovery. The Article examines the hearing itself, considering each side’s execution of its arbitration strategy, the scientific and personal testimony offered during the hearing, and the arbitral panel’s 2-1 ruling in favor of the USADA. The Article describes the subsequent legal action pursued by Landis, including an unsuccessful non-public appeal to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS), and an attempt to persuade a U.S. Federal Court to vacate the CAS ruling. The Article concludes by discussing the value to the public and the legal community that came from having the initial Landis arbitration hearing open to the public, including increased awareness of the need for more transparency and greater organizational accountability in the doping arbitral process.
While the Article was published prior to the recent admission of doping by Floyd Landis, certainly the anti-doping standards and adjudicatory process continues to play a vital role in the lives and careers of international sport athletes.
Keywords: arbitration, alternative dispute resolution, ADR, athlete, professional, sport, doping, drug, USADA, Tour de France, bicycle, cyclist, race, Landis, American Arbitration Association, World Anti-Doping Code, procedure, discovery, Pepperdine, Court for Arbitration of Sport, drug testing
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