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Cassels Successfully Represents Equestrian Canada on Appeal Concerning Selection of Athlete/Horse Combination Nominees for Tokyo Olympic Games


On June 28, 2021, Cassels successfully represented Equestrian Canada (EC) in an arbitration before the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC). The arbitration was an appeal brought by five equestrian athletes (the “Claimants”) who disputed EC’s athlete/horse combination nominees to the Canadian Olympic Committee for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Claimants alleged that EC’s Selection Panel, comprised of three professional equestrians, failed to apply the written Selection Criteria adopted by EC in selecting the athlete/horse combinations. The Claimants additionally argued that one of the members of the Selection Panel operated under bias in the nomination of a specific athlete/horse.

Cassels successfully argued that the Selection Panel properly applied the EC’s Selection Criteria, that the allegations of bias were without merit and that the Arbitrator should only interfere with the decision of the Selection Panel if it was patently unreasonable.

In written reasons released on July 5, 2021, the Arbitrator also found that the Selection Criteria adopted by EC allowed the Selection Panel to fulfill their duties, and that the team selection process had been conducted in a manner that was fair, devoid of bad faith, arbitrariness, or discrimination.

This decision has important implications for the use of subjective factors in assessing the competitiveness of athletes. The arbitrator found that, in addition to objective factors, consideration of subjective factors can also be established and inform the decision of the decision makers.

Cassels represented Equestrian Canada.

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