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"Comfortable Satisfaction"? Huh?
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INTRODUCTION (slightly edited for clarification)


What is “comfortable satisfaction”?  Could it be rephrased, or even somehow defined as, "warmth and fuzziness"?  FWIW, huh means "confused sound" . . .


My limited internet research shows that there is little concrete information, much less a lucid definition, and that this standard apparently developed in response to doping in physical athletic contests.  The definitions and percentages herein are not my own, but rather taken from a couple of scholarly publications.


Of course, doping is not a phenomenon in expert bridge. Shouldn’t a standard for determining culpability be different, or at least explainable, in mind games? Or, must it be indefinite?


It appears that the CAS has typically adjudicated anti-doping cases, where positive urine or blood tests can become “smoking guns” (sometimes called “prima facie” evidence). In cases of illicit exchange of information in bridge, after the now evident, (after intense and committed deciphering), Cokin-Sion pencil placement, any bridge “smoking gun” seemingly must be a standard similar to the one derided when written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in one of a frequent prosecutions of anti-pornography in the Puritan era: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it”.


Shockingly to me, it appears that the “comfortable satisfaction” standard is actually a sliding scale between 51% and 99%, based on the amount of punishment given. This means, to me, that the CAS is almost akin to the Appeals & Charges Committee of the ACBL BoD; they can do whatever they believe is “equitable”, despite a conviction by the “Supreme Court” of the convicting body.


In the matter of F-N, how many appeals are there?  They can ask the EBL for reconsideration, go to the CAS,  ask the CAS for reconsideration, go to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, and ask that Court for reconsideration.  This is a well-known legal technique used by many organizations (think tobacco companies) with deep pockets to evade valid charges.


My final thought, despite the mantra that better 10 guilty go free than one innocent be convicted, is that the need to come down hard and fast on violators is an absolute must to the survival of bridge.









The CAS Tribunal is a rare example of a neutral Court which acts with international jurisdiction. The tribunal's powers are conferred through contractual provisions with its various sports bodies, for example, the International Olympic Committee or in this case, the EBL.


Although it appears as a “Court” by name, the CAS Tribunal is not actually bound by any traditional rules of evidence and precedent that are enacted in by laws which embody traditional courts.


For the CAS Tribunal Arbitrators to be “comfortably satisfied”, the standard required is anywhere between “balance of probabilities” and “beyond reasonable doubt”.


In reaching a point on this scale, the tribunal will consider any particular circumstances of the matter; for example, the seriousness of the offence and the potential effect a guilty finding would have on the players.


Considering the career-ending ramifications at play, is it likely the CAS Tribunal has adopted a stricter approach to this test here – closer to a criminal standard of proof.? This would mean the evidentiary burden upon the EBL to prove their case was greatly, almost impossibly, heightened.


As a Swiss arbitration organization, decisions of the CAS can be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland!  It appears that most successful such appeals are procedural in nature.

STANDARDS OF PROOF - edited to add third standard of proof


There are generally three standards of proof in court systems:


In a criminal matter, the guilt of the offender is usually determined “beyond reasonable doubt”. This is considered a very strict test - and can be generally be considered as greater than 99% certainty.


"Clear and convincing proof" means that the evidence must be highly and substantially more probable to be true than not and there must be a firm belief or conviction in its factuality". There is mention, in California at least, that this standard applies to personal injury (PI) cases. Some estimate 2/3 = 67%, others range up to 75-80%.


In a civil (lawsuit) matter, the matter be determined on the “balance of probabilities”, also termed “preponderance of the evidence”. This is a much wider test, and the court need only be convinced to a degree above 50% certainty to find in one party's favor.


NOTE: At one point, in ACBL-land, a standard for bidding after partner’s hesitation was established. I believe that Bobby Wolff proposed and championed the phrase “logical alternative”. This standard evolved to mean approximately 75-80% of similar players would consider the call actually made after a partner hesitation.



The state’s burden of proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is a cornerstone of United States criminal jurisprudence. In practice since the foundation of the American judicial system, the standard was not interpreted as an explicit constitutional requirement until 1970, in the case of In re Winship (397 U.S. 358 (1970)).


Writing for the majority decision, Justice William Brennan found that proof beyond a reasonable doubt “plays a vital role in the American scheme of criminal procedure” because it reduces “the risk of convictions resting on factual error” and because it “provides concrete substance for the presumption of innocence”. The standard’s importance for the protection of due process cannot be overstated: an evidentiary burden that required anything less would put the defendant at a significant disadvantage since presumption would shift toward guilt in cases where reasonable doubt existed.



The 2004 adoption by American sports governing bodies lowered the burden of proof in doping proceedings from a criminal standard to a quasi-criminal standard. They justified this standard by claiming it was practically impossible to prove an athlete’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


A legal opinion declared that though a presumption of guilt “can lead to some injustice in cases where an athlete is unable to prove an absence of fault or negligence,” such a standard “is not only appropriate but also essential in order to pursue an efficient anti-doping policy".


The burden of proof is “greater than a mere balance of probability but less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt”: namely, prosecutors must establish an athlete’s guilt “to the comfortable satisfaction of the hearing body". The standard’s ambiguity emerges from a failure to define “comfortable satisfaction". Is it closer to preponderance of evidence, the evidentiary standard in civil proceedings, or closer to beyond reasonable doubt?

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