CAS Reduces Cilic Suspension

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.

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10 Responses to CAS Reduces Cilic Suspension

  1. Pingback: The Cilic Decision, Trust, and Evidence | Fog Mountain Tennis

  2. Mar Tin says:

    If you read the statement carefully maybe you will understand why the sanction was reduced and why he got less then Strycova.
    CAS says: “player was sanctioned with a nine month ban following a positive anti-doping control for a METABOLITE of nikethamide (N-ethylnicotinamide), a stimulant which is prohibited IN competition. The player admitted that he had INADVERTENTLY ingested the prohibited substance by taking a glucose supplement OUT-of-competition”.
    He was not not positive to nikethamide because he had taken it long before the tournament started (and nikethamide was out of his body) when it was actually perfectly legal. Metabolite just proved that he had taken nikethamide BEFORE the tournament and that is NOT an offence. Or maybe it is but its purely technical.
    You can see his interview in le equipe, that came out today.

    • fogmount says:

      Many doping agents are converted into chemically different forms almost immediately after entering the body, and therefore tests for these agents are often designed to look for such metabolites. The fact that Cilic tested positive for a metabolite rather than the original form of nikethamide does not by itself entitle him to a reduced sentence. Furthermore, the question isn’t whether Cilic took the nikethamide during competition, but whether it or its metabolites were detectable in his body during competition. (See sections 2.1 and 4.9.2 of the ITF’s anti-doping rules.) Cilic tested positive for the metabolite immediately after his match in Munich. An anti-doping tribunal can’t be in the position of trying to establish with certainty exactly when a player ingested a substance—in most cases such certainty is impossible.

      According to Cilic, he last took the Coramine Glucose product five days before he tested positive. I wouldn’t describe that as “long before” his match. The ITF’s decision on Zahlavova Strycova doesn’t specify when she claims to have taken the product containing sibutramine, but it does accept her contention that she, like Cilic, took the banned substance inadvertently without significant intent to enhance her performance. Sibutramine, like nikethamide, is only banned during competition.

  3. Mar Tin says:

    Strycova obviously had sibutramine in competition (so I am not sure why you wrote that sibutramine is only banned in comp) and Marin had just metabolites (not the substance it self) and that is a big difference. She had stimulant with all its effects IN competition and maybe you can say (I wouldn’t because I believe that she had no intent to cheat) she got ONLY 6 months. If she had just metabolites or if she had took it out of competition she would probably contest that like Marin did. That is a big mistake ITF did, falsely accusing / informing the player. CAS obviously taught differently and corrected false info from ITF in there own statement. And the tests you are talking about are perfectly fine, searching for metabolites to caught “cheaters” much later after the violation occurred because there are some substances that are banned at all times. But what was proven in this case with metabolites found in his sistem? They proved that he has taken the substance few days ago when it was perfectly legal. That is why I said that this was obviously just a technical violation (because I know the rules you cited) and there was no stimulant effects during tournament and actually there was no doping offence there. I am sorry that there is so many people asking for blood and you have a decision from an independent court that had all the info (more than you and me) and they did not see a big offence in this case. Unfortunately there is always somebody sitting at home who knows better. Shame.

    • fogmount says:

      Your statement that “actually there was no doping offence” is simply incorrect. The CAS had the option to completely annul the ITF tribunal’s suspension and replace it with a warning, as Cilic asked it to do. It did not take that option. Instead, it ruled that his “degree of fault” in the offense he committed, a factor entitling him to a suspension of shorter duration, was less than the ITF tribunal had concluded.

      • Mar Tin says:

        You took only one of my sentences to prove me wrong. I also said that his offence (nobody is denying that offence was committed) was purely technical. When I said that there was “actually no doping offence” I meant that he really didn’t have anything in his system that helped his performance and the substance he did take, he took it when he was allowed to use it. You also said “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 after that you say he used Coramine Glucose. Glucose is SUGAR and I don’t understand how you can say that it was labeled as stimulant. And on the other hand you have weight loss supplement and EVERY SINGLE weight loss supplement has some kind of STIMULANT inside (it may be just be caffein but it is still a stimulant)!
        Don’t get me wrong I am all for banning cheaters but for me Strycova is not a cheater and neither is Marin. Considering all the circumstances I think Marin’s case was definitely deserves lower suspension. But one more thing, what do you think about the fact that CAS stopped his suspension immediately after the hearing/official decision? What do you think, what would happen if Marin had this hearing (CAS hearing) one or two months earlier? Maybe they would give him one or two months less. If they gave him a warning now, they would open the door for Marin to sue the ITF. This looks like a scenario where Marin is happy he can finally play and in a way CAS cleared his name, and ITF is not gonna be sued for the damage they did to him. I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories but this is to big of coincidence to me. He got a suspension that lasted only one more day after the decision, and they let him play the first possible tournament. I think that says everything.

      • fogmount says:

        The answers to all of your questions about my assessment of “Coramine Glucose” and its labeling can be found in my analysis of the ITF tribunal’s decision. I’ll say here that yes, glucose is a sugar, but Coramine is nikethamide. I’m not interested in speculating about external motives that might have driven the CAS’s ruling before their full decision is released.

  4. Mar Tin says:

    I agree that we really shouldn’t speculate but you are the one who started speculating with the last paragraph of your text. I really don’t wanna argue, I’m just glad that Marin’s sanction was reduced and I think it’s a good decision (for now). We’re gonna have to wait for the full explanation from CAS and then, who knows, maybe we’re gonna change our mind. I just don’t want to accuse somebody without knowing all the facts. Let CAS say why they made such decision and than we can talk again. Let’s enjoy some good tennis for this couple of weeks that’s left of this season. Good players like Marin just makes the game more interesting. Cheers 🙂

  5. Paul says:

    My, how CAS has changed its stance over the years with regard to Coramine.

    http://www.usada.org/files/active/arbitration_rulings/TFedwardsfinalCAS081704.pdf

    Seemingly with this latest appeal, an athlete is no longer responsible for what goes into his body. Having said that, it could also be argued that the ITF shot itself in the foot, perhaps deliberately, with its lame acceptance as uncontested fact, that Cilic was an “honest and truthful man”. As Cilic’s honesty was not even the subject of tribunal finding, where else could the appeal go? An honest man does not by definition, abuse anti-doping rules.

    Interesting to see Cilic now spinning yarns about metabolites and not having tested positive for Coramine at all. The man does protest too much, methinks.

  6. Pingback: CAS Shortens Troicki’s Suspension | Fog Mountain Tennis

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