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Nandrolone in Judo? Bouras v. IJF

The case is that of Bouras v. International Judo Federation (Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Lausanne, 20.12.99, CAS 99/A/230). What was at issue for Bouras was the length of suspension and whether the results achieved while the doping tests had not yet been announced were valid and the athlete could thus keep his trophies.

Djamel Bouras was a judoka and member of the French Judo Federation (FFJDA). At the request of the French Ministry of Youth and Sport, Bouras was subjected to an out-of-competition drug test on 2 October 1997. He tested positive. On 18 April 1998, the FFJDA Anti-doping Commission, to which the case had been referred, decided to impose a two-year suspension on Bouras, with one year suspended.

Bouras filed an appeal against this decision with the FFJDA Anti-Doping Appeals Commission, which decided that the case was outside its jurisdiction. The French Minister of Youth and Sport then asked the National Anti-Doping Commission for its opinion. The Commission suggested that the sanction imposed by the FFJDA should not be increased because of doubts surrounding the origin of the nandrolone metabolites found in Bouras’ samples.

Based on this opinion, the Minister of Youth and Sport ruled in a decree of 9 July 1998 that Bouras should be suspended for one year. The International Judo Federation (IJF) took up the case and its Executive Committee heard the athlete and the FFJDA President on 9 October 1998. On 10 October 1998, since Bouras had said that a further analysis was about to prove his innocence, the IJF Executive Committee postponed its final decision, considering that Bouras had been suspended since 2 October 1997.

On 14 October 1998, Djamel Bouras appealed to the CAS, which decided to set aside the IJF’s decision of 10 October and to suspend Bouras for fifteen months, i.e. until 19 March 1999, taking into account the period of suspension already served (“time served”). On the basis of this decision, the IJF decided to nullify the results achieved by Bouras at the World Championships in Paris in October 1997 and to withdraw the silver medal awarded on that occasion.

On 25 June 1999, Bouras filed an appeal against this decision with the CAS, arguing that: 1) the IJF’s decision had been taken without the involvement of both parties; 2) the IJF had not been competent to rule on the case once it had been referred to the CAS; 3) under the “non bis in idem” rule, disciplinary action could not be taken against an athlete more than once for the same offence (our “double jeopardy”); 4) since the test had not been carried out during a competition, the IJF’s decision had no legal foundation.

On 30 August 1999, the IJF filed its response, in which it stated that a distinction should be drawn between the disciplinary sanction, i.e. suspension, and the sporting sanction, i.e. disqualification and forfeiture of the medal, which it thought were automatic.

The CAS declared Bouras’ appeal admissible and set aside the decision taken by the IJF Executive Committee in April 1999, in which it disqualified the appellant from the 1997 World Championships and ordered the forfeiture of the medal he won on that occasion. The grounds for this decision were, firstly, that the decision to disqualify the athlete had no valid foundation either in the IJF Anti-doping Regulations, which at the time made no provision for out-of-competition drug tests, nor in the IOC Medical Code, which only made provision for suspension, rather than disqualification, as a result of this type of test. Furthermore, the appellant’s results could not be invalidated, since he had not been suspended when participating in the World Championships. At the time of the event, the IJF regulations stated that suspensions should begin on the date on which the test result was announced rather than the day when the sample was given.

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