By Karolos Grohmann
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The judging of doping cases at this year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics and all future Games will be handled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) instead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The IOC said on Tuesday that their Executive Board had approved the decision to remove itself from the process of judging suspected dopers in an effort to add more credibility to judgments.
"The IOC will no longer hear these cases. This is taking the IOC out of result management and out of hearings," CAS President John Coates, who is also an IOC member, told reporters.
At previous Games, an IOC disciplinary commission, made up of regular IOC members, would convene following a positive dope test by an athlete.
The commission would then hear the athlete's case and hand out any sanctions. These sanctions could include the stripping of medals and the disqualification of athletes from the Olympics.
The respective sport federation was then responsible for any further sanctions.
Under the new system, athletes or officials, who are suspected of anti-doping rule violations, will present their case to a group of arbitrators within a new anti-doping division of CAS.
Between one and three arbitrators, who all specialize in doping, will hear the case, Coates said.
Lawyers working on a pro-bono basis would also be available for those under investigation.
The IOC would then be bound to accept any decision by CAS' anti-doping division.
"Athletes should be pleased with this," Coates said. "Suddenly they will appear before a hearing where prosecutor and judge are different people. They will now have an independent body determining his or her fate."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Toby Davis)