Arbitration Court rejects Murofushi’s IOC election appeal

AFP, LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Thu, May 23, 2013 - Page 20

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) yesterday said it had rejected an appeal by Japanese hammer-thrower Koji Murofushi against his exclusion as a candidate for election to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission on the grounds of unfair campaigning at last year’s London Olympics.

The Swiss-based tribunal said it had upheld the decision made in August last year by the committee to bar the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medalist and London bronze winner from the election race.

Murofushi’s appeal had led to a nine-month freeze in the election procedure.

His lawsuit’s failure means that French triple canoe slalom champion Tony Estanguet, Slovakian shooting star Danka Bartekova, Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry and Australian rower James Tomkins are set to take their places on the Athletes’ Commission.

Commission membership is considered an honor in the sporting world, particularly because it conveys the right to be part of the IOC itself.

“The IOC welcomes the CAS decision and looks forward to working with Danka Bartekova, James Tomkins, Kirsty Coventry and Tony Estanguet, who are expected to be proposed by the IOC Executive Board for election at the July 2013 extraordinary session in Lausanne,” the Olympic body said in a statement.

The court did not give details of the ruling by its three-member appeals panel — which sat on April 10 and April 11 — saying that it would be issued in the coming days.

However, it underlined that the “main reason” for the panel’s decision was that Murofushi and the Japanese Olympic Committee “did not comply with the applicable rules and regulations.”

The panel “also stressed that Mr Murofushi’s reputation and sportsmanship were intact,” the court said.

Murofushi was not the only athlete to fall foul of the campaigning rules.

In March, the court rejected an appeal by Taiwan’s Chu Mu-yen, who won the taekwondo gold in Athens and bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Chu was accused of handing out name cards and showing documents on a tablet computer in an authorized area during the London Games, actions which were deemed to have given him an advantage over candidates who toed the line.

While saying that the IOC’s sanction was not disproportionate, the court said Chu’s actions were more due to excessive zeal than a desire to get the upper hand, and that his reputation and integrity were unaffected.