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In July 2023, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) provisionally suspended Nigerian sprinter Toby Amusan. She is a 26-year-old sprinter who is a World Champion in the 100-metre hurdles. Amusan received the notification of the charge and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). According to the AIU, she missed three doping tests within a 12-month period. Doing so is considered and is equal to testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The charge was heard by the Disciplinary Tribunal and was expected to be determined before the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August.
Her appeal was heard and the panel overturned the suspension, which allowed her to compete in Budapest. She finished sixth.
“I’m here competing and that’s all that matters,” is one response she gave to reporters in the mixed media zone. She also had a testy exchange with a British reporter.
On Monday, Sept. 18, the AIU announced that it filed an appeal to the CAS last week.
On Sunday, she finished the season during the Eugene Diamond League finale with a victory at the Prefontaine Classic. Amusan finished in the time of 12.33. She holds the world record at 12:12, which she set at the 2022 Eugene World Athletics Championships.
In July, she professed her innocence on social media. At this time it is unknown why the CAS overturned the suspension.
AIU Chairman David Howman doesn’t want a precedent set where athletes can appeal based on Amusan’s successful defence. The AIU lost another appeal when Australian middle-distance runner Peter Bol tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He appealed and the subsequent B-sample turned up negative. He was reinstated. Bol did not compete during the Prefontaine Classic or the Budapest World Athletics Championships. He owns a personal best of 1:44.00.
The Athletics Integrity Unit
The AIU was founded by World Athletics in April 2017 to combat doping in the sport of athletics. The unit functions fully independently from World Athletics. It is currently led by Brett Clothier.
The AIU took over from the World Athletics/IAAF’s anti-doping department. The body is responsible for the management of all aspects of the anti-doping program for international-level athletes and their athlete support system including management of all other integrity-related programs operated in elite athletics.
The AIU manages education, prevention, testing, intelligence gathering, investigations, results management, prosecutions and appeals. It also serves a key role in monitoring the compliance of Member Federations with their obligations under the Integrity Code of Conduct.
It is believed that the AIU was developed to move potential conflict away from World Athletics. The decision seems to have happened following the charges, conviction and incarceration of previous World Athletics President Lamine Diack. He was accused of corruption related to covering up positive tests and extorting athletes in exchange for a clean record. Diack was accused of money laundering and other crimes. His son Papa Massata Diack who worked in marketing for World Athletics was charged with taking bribes. He was allegedly approving applications including World Championships for the 2017 and then approving the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships. As France does not have an extradition treaty with Diack’s home country of Senegal, he remains at large. He maintains his innocence.
“The AIU’s focus is not only on anti-doping but also addresses integrity breaches in other areas of concern such as bribery and corruption, betting, the manipulation of competition results, age manipulation and misconduct around transfers of allegiance. The AIU is tasked with combatting any and all threats to the integrity of the sport.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport
The CAS is an appeal board for provisionally suspended athletes.
Established in 1984, the CAS is an international body that settles disputes related to sport through arbitration. Its headquarters are in Lausanne, Switzerland and its courts are located in New York City, Sydney, and Lausanne. Temporary courts are established in current Olympic host cities.
The International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) was established simultaneously. A single president presides over both bodies. The ICAS, which has a membership of 20 individuals, is responsible for the financing of and financial reporting of the CAS, and it appoints the Director-General of the CAS.
Is there a conflict?
Mr. John D. Coates is the ICAS President. The Australian lawyer is a current International Olympic Committee Vice-President and former Chair IOC Tokyo 2020 Coordination and Legal Affairs Commissions and former President. Should he chair a board that sees appeals of Olympic athletes like Amusan and Bol?
While the board seems to have positions filled by lawyers who are former board members or formerly held positions related to the IOC, and anti-doping among others, one wonders if the ICAS president should be currently occupying a position within the IOC as Mr. Coates is.
CAS mediator Malek Badri Attorney-at-law is a current mediator at the Sport Tribunal of the Tunisia National Olympic Committee and holds a number of other non-conflicting positions in various sports. Is there interest overlap with the Tunisian National Olympic Committee or what if one arises?
“The AIU filed an appeal last Friday (15 September 2023) with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the Disciplinary Tribunal’s decision, dated 17 August 2023, that Tobi Amusan did not commit an anti-doping rule violation for Whereabouts Failures,” the body wrote on X (formerly Twitter). Why the ruling is overturned, remains a mystery.