Court of Arbitration rules it does not have power to overturn 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition decisions

Britain’s Paralympic Sonar class sailors John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas have lost their chance to
overturn the London 2012 jury rulings that cost them the bronze medal.

In September 2012 the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) submitted an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) against a series of decisions made by the International Jury at the Paralympic Sailing Competition during the three-person keelboat event.

The hearing took place in London in April and CAS has now reached a decision which was communicated to all parties yesterday, 11 June.

The Sole Arbitrator concluded that the International Jury’s decisions were related to technical rules as constituted in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) handbook and that CAS does not have jurisdiction.

Therefore the decisions of the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) on 5 and 6 September stand.

IFDS President, John Twomey said: ‘IFDS is very pleased with the outcome of this hearing at which CAS confirmed the decisions of the International Race Officials.

‘When the RYA presented the appeal in September 2012, IFDS advised CAS that it lacked jurisdiction.

‘IFDS agrees with the arbitrator that medals should be won or lost on the water.

‘It is regrettable that the actions of members of Team GBR led to the protest and penalty against the British Sonar team.

‘I am glad that we can now draw a line under this matter and look back on the Paralympic Sailing Competition for the amazing spectacle that it was.’

The Award will be published in its entirety by the CAS.


The British Paralympic Association and RYA have told of their disappointment with this outcome.

Their joint statement says: ‘The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced its findings in the case concerning a penalty given to the British Sonar boat during the 2012 Paralympic Games.

‘This case related to a four-point penalty imposed by the International Jury on the British Sonar boat in connection with a misunderstanding arising out of repairs being effected to damage sustained to the boat’s keel.

‘The penalty resulted in the British Sonar being demoted to three points behind the Norwegian Sonar boat in the regatta results, with the Norwegian team subsequently awarded the bronze medal.

‘The arbitrator, Michael Beloff QC, ruled that the International Jury’s decision must stand, determining that the matter concerned ‘sport technical
rules’ which, according to the International Paralympic Committee Eligibility Code, are unable to be reviewed by CAS.

‘We are naturally disappointed with this outcome but we respect the arbitrator’s decision and will move forward in the hope that all parties involved will learn lessons from the events that took place.’


After five days of racing at the London 2012 Games, helm John Robertson, tactitian Hannah Stodel and crew Steve Thomas had manoeuvred themselves into third place.

The British Sonar Team’s performance on Portland Harbour on September 5 put them in a podium position with just one day left of racing.

However a protest by the International Jury against the Sonar team for an off-the-water incident between an event technical officer and a member of the British team support staff saw a four-point discretionary penalty imposed on the British boat.

The incident involved team bosun Simon Hiscocks, who had been permitted to carry out repairs to damage sustained to the British Sonar keel during the course of the 2012 Paralympic Games, but then wiped the boat’s keel while it was out of the water when he had been asked by a measurer not to do so.

The deduction saw the trio drop to fifth in the rankings.

When a lack of breeze scuppered racing chances on September 6, the overnight results stood.

A subsequent appeal was rejected and Norway’s team of Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen were awarded Sonar bronze.


Helm Robertson said: ‘I would like to say a huge and heartfelt thanks to everyone, I mean everybody who has supported us and wished us well in the last nine months whilst going through the CAS process.

‘A special thanks to [team manager] Sparky and the legal team of Jeanette (RYA) and Michael McParland.

‘After all of what has happened we still can hold our heads high and I wouldn’t want to sail with anyone else Steveo and Hannah you guys are legends…….Bring on Rio…..and a tan!’

(The British Sonar Team in action. credit Paul Wyeth/RYA

Hannah Stodel, John Robertson and Steve Thomas. Credit: onEdition)