At the end of the 20th century and the dawn of the new millennium, sport, like many other facets of society, has become beset by many legal challenges. Many of these deal with drug use in sport, or doping. When athletes are accused of doping, they usually challenge the legality of the testing system, ensuring a long, and often expensive, legal battle. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) attempted to solve some of these legal problems by forming the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. The CAS was formed in 1983 by the IOC, but was restructured in 1994 as an independent body, after a legal decision made note that the IOC and the CAS were very closely aligned.
At major international sporting events, athletes must now sign an agreement that any legal problems that may ensue from their participation, including a doping disqualification, will be adjudicated by submitting the problem for arbitration to the CAS. Of minor importance in the first few years of its existence, the CAS has now assumed a prominent role at major international sporting events. Many of the International Federations (IFs) and other sport governing bodies have agreed to give the CAS binding authority to rule on disputes involving sports law.
When a dispute arises, the parties may choose one arbitrator from CAS’s pool of 150 internationally recognized arbitration experts, or each party may choose one arbitrator with the CAS choosing a third arbitrator to serve as the president of the panel for that dispute. Costs of the arbitration process are paid by the loser in the dispute, as is common in European courts of law. During the Olympic Games a panel of CAS arbitrators is available for emergency decisions to be adjudicated within 24 hours.