Malaysian lawyer in Olympic sports panel

KUALA LUMPUR - Even before the London Olympics began on Saturday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport was already operational - with a Malaysian on board.

The Lausanne-based CAS has had an ad-hoc division in London from July 17.

The London tribunal is presided over by Judge Juan Torruella of Puerto Rico and Gunnar Werner of Sweden.

The tribunal consists of 12 arbitrators from 12 countries, all of whom are lawyers or professors specialising in sports law and arbitration.

Among them is Malaysian Datuk Thomas Lee, a senior partner at law firm Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill.

Lee has also served as an arbitrator during the 2000 Sydney and 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as the Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

"All arbitrators must be lawyers with a background in sport.

"In my case, I have been in involved with golf internationally and nationally for a long time as well as tennis," said the former president of the Malaysian Golf Association in an e-mail interview from London.

At the Sydney Olympics, Lee arbitrated in two appeals that involved drugs.

"In Beijing, I had a case involving nationality and another involved a wrestler who lost a silver medal bout."

As for the difference between sports and international commercial arbitration, Lee said arbitrations at the Olympics "are usually concluded in a day and decisions rendered within 24 hours".

"Commercial arbitrations can last much longer," said Lee who likes watching athletics, swimming, gymnastics and tennis.

"If (Datuk) Lee Chong Wei gets to the final (in badminton), I hope to be able to support (him)."

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