Upon an appeal by Marin Cilic, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has reduced his doping suspension from nine months to four, meaning he will be eligible to return to action next week in Paris. According to its brief press release, the CAS ruled that Cilic’s “degree of fault” was less than was assigned by the ITF’s independent tribunal, and that therefore the tribunal’s sentence was too harsh.
The CAS specified that the four-month suspension effectively began when Cilic withdrew from Wimbledon to begin serving a voluntary provisional suspension on June 26. According to the ITF’s own release, this means “Cilic’s results subsequent to the BMW Open [in Munich] will not be disqualified,” so he will regain his ranking points and prize money from Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Queen’s Club, and Wimbledon.
My analysis and commentary on the ITF tribunal’s full original decision is here. It appears the CAS will release its own full decision document “in due course”, and when it does I’ll post further analysis here.
Based on the facts as they appear at the moment, I find it hard to understand how the CAS justifies a suspension this short. Even giving full credit to Cilic’s own version of events, it seems to me that the his negligence and degree of fault are higher than were established in the case of Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, for example. Both claimed they ingested banned stimulants unintentionally by using products they believed contained no banned substances. But Cilic used a product that was clearly labeled as a stimulant medication (though not in a language he speaks very well), while Zahlavova Strycova used a product labeled as a berry-based natural weight-loss supplement. And Cilic’s use of “Coramine Glucose” lozenges in order to help his absorption of creatine tends to indicate a certain intent to enhance his athletic performance, even though the tribunal found that intent didn’t meet the strict definition of the phrase under anti-doping rules. Zahlavova Strycova served a six-month suspension.