The Pechstein decision of the
Oberlandesgericht of Munich is “ground-breaking”, “earth-shaking”, “revolutionary”,
name it. It was the outmost duty of a “German-reading” sports lawyer to
translate it as fast as possible in order to make it available for the sports
law community at large (Disclaimer: This is not an official translation and I
am no certified legal translator). Below you will find the rough translation of
the ruling (the full German text is available here), it is omitting solely the parts,
which are of no direct interest to international sports law.
of CAS is in the balance and this ruling should trigger some serious
rethinking of the institutional set-up that underpins it. As you will see, the
ruling is not destructive, the Court is rather favourable to the function of
CAS in the sporting context, but it requires a fundamental institutional
reshuffling. It also offers a fruitful legal strategy to challenge CAS awards
that could be used in front of any national court of the EU as it is based on reasoning
analogically applicable to article 102 TFEU (on abuse of a dominant position),
which is valid across the EU’s territory.
Enjoy the read!
PS: The translation can also be downloaded at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2561297
autumn 2011, the Finnish cross-country skier Juha Lalluka, known as a “lone-wolf” because of his training habit, showed an
adverse analytical finding with regard to human growth hormone (hGH). The timing
was ideal. As the FINADA Supervisory Body in view of the A and B positive
samples initiated disciplinary proceedings against Lalluka for violation of
anti-doping rules, the Veerpalu case was pending before the
CAS. At the athlete’s request, the Supervisory Board postponed the proceedings until
the CAS rendered the award in the Veerpalu
case. Indeed, on 25 March 2013, the CAS
shook the anti-doping order: it cleared Andrus Veerpalu of an anti-doping rule
violation for recombinant hGH (rhGH) on the grounds that the decision limits
set by WADA to define the ratio
beyond which the laboratories should report the presence of rhGH had not proven
Veerpalu precedent has become a
rallying flag for athletes suspected of use of hGH and confirmed some concerns raised about the application of the hGH test. Not surprisingly, Sinkewitz and Lallukka followed
the road that Veerpalu paved and sought to overturn their doping ban by
alleging the scientific unreliability of the hGH decisions limits. Without
success, however. With the full text of the CAS award on the Lallukka case released
a few weeks ago
and the new rules of the 2015 WADA Code coming into force, we grasp the opportunity to outline the ambiguous approach of CAS on
the validity of the hGH test. In short: Should the Veerpalu case and its claim that
doping sanctions should rely on scientifically well founded assessments be
considered as a fundamental precedent or as a mere exception? More...
Editor's note (13 July 2015): We (Ben Van Rompuy and I) have just published on SSRN an article on the Pechstein ruling of the OLG. It is available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2621983. Feel free to download it and to share any feedback with us!
On 15 January 2015, the earth must
have been shaking under the offices of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
in Lausanne when the Oberlandesgericht München announced its decision in the
Pechstein case. If not entirely unpredictable, the decision went very far
(further than the first instance) in eroding the legal foundations on which
sports arbitration rests. It is improbable (though not impossible) that the
highest German civil court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), which will most likely
be called to pronounce itself in the matter, will entirely dismiss the
reasoning of the Oberlandesgericht. This blogpost is a first examination of the
legal arguments used (Disclaimer: it is based only on the official press release, the full text of the ruling will be published in
the coming months).More...
The summer saga surrounding Luis
Suarez’s vampire instincts is long forgotten, even though it might still play a
role in his surprisingly muted football debut in FC Barcelona’s magic triangle.
However, the full text of the CAS award in the Suarez
case has recently be made available on CAS’s website and we want to grasp this
opportunity to offer a close reading of its holdings. In this regard, one has
to keep in mind that “the object of the appeal is not to request the complete
annulment of the sanction imposed on the Player” (par.33). Instead, Suarez and
Barcelona were seeking to reduce the sanction imposed by FIFA. In their eyes, the
four-month ban handed out by FIFA extending to all football-related activities
and to the access to football stadiums was excessive and disproportionate. Accordingly,
the case offered a great opportunity for CAS to discuss and analyse the
proportionality of disciplinary sanctions based on the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FIFA DC). More...
After Tuesday’s dismissal of Michael Garcia’s complaint
against the now infamous Eckert statement synthetizing (misleadingly in his
eyes) his Report on the bidding process for the World Cup 2018 and 2022, Garcia
finally decided to resign from his position as FIFA Ethics Committee member. On his way out, he
noted: “No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel
can change the culture of an organization”. It took Garcia a while to
understand this, although others faced similar disappointments before. One
needs only to remember the forgotten reform proposals of the Independent Governance
Committee led by Prof. Dr. Mark Pieth. More...
In a first
blog last month we discussed the problem of the scope of jurisdiction of
the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The key issue was
whether an athlete could get his case heard in front of the CAS Ad Hoc Division
or not. In this second part, we will also focus on whether an athlete can access
a forum, but a different kind of forum: the Olympic Games as such. This is a
dramatic moment in an athlete’s life, one that will decide the future path of
an entire career and most likely a lifetime of opportunities. Thus, it is a
decision that should not be taken lightly, nor in disregard of the athletes’
due process rights. In the past, several (non-)selection cases were referred to
the Ad Hoc Divisions at the Olympic Games, and this was again the case in 2014,
providing us with the opportunity for the present review.
Three out of four cases dealt with
by the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Sochi involved an athlete contesting her eviction
from the Games. Each case is specific in its factual and legal assessment and
deserves an individual review. More...
The 40 recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 are out! First
thought: one should not underplay the 40 recommendations, they constitute (on
paper at least) a potential leap forward for the IOC. The media will focus on the hot stuff: the Olympic
channel, the pluri-localisation of the Games, or their dynamic format. More
importantly, and to some extent surprisingly to us, however, the IOC has also fully embraced
sustainability and good governance. Nonetheless, the long-term legacy of the
Olympic Agenda 2020 will hinge on the IOC’s determination to be true to these
fundamental commitments. Indeed, the devil is always in the implementation, and
the laudable intents of some recommendations will depend on future political choices
by Olympic bureaucrats.
For those interested in human rights and
democracy at (and around) the Olympics, two aspects are crucial: the IOC’s
confession that the autonomy of sport is intimately linked to the quality of
its governance standards and the central role the concept of sustainability is
to play in the bidding process and the host city contract. More...
Three weeks ago, I gave a talk for a group of visiting researchers
at Harvard Law School on the accountability of the IOC for human rights abuses
caused by hosting Olympic Games. On the day of that talk, Human Rights Watch announced
that the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) would insert new language into
the Host City Contract presumably for the 2022 Olympic Games onwards. The new
language apparently requires the parties to the contract to:
“take all necessary measures to ensure that
development projects necessary for the organization of the Games comply with
local, regional, and national legislation, and international agreements and
protocols, applicable in the host country with regard to planning,
construction, protection of the environment, health, safety, and labour laws.”More...
The IOC has trumpeted it worldwide as a « historical
the United Nations has recognised the sacrosanct autonomy of sport. Indeed, the
Resolution A/69/L.5 (see the final draft) adopted by the General Assembly on 31 October states
that it “supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the
mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic movement”.
This is a logical conclusion to a year that has brought the two organisations closer
than ever. In April, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed former IOC President, Jacques Rogge, Special
Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport. At
this occasion, the current IOC President, Thomas Bach, made an eloquent speech celebrating a “historic step forward to better
accomplish our common mission for humanity” and a memorandum
understanding was signed between the UN and the IOC. This is all
sweet and well, but is there something new under the sun?More...
The year is coming to an end and it
has been a relatively busy one for the CAS Ad Hoc divisions. Indeed, the Ad Hoc
division was, as usual now since the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996,
settling “Olympic” disputes during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. However,
it was also, and this is a novelty, present at the Asian Games 2014 in Incheon. Both divisions have had to deal with seven (published)
cases in total (four in Sochi and three in Incheon). The early commentaries
available on the web (here,
have been relatively unmoved by this year’s case law. Was it then simply ‘business
as usual’, or is there more to learn from the 2014 Ad Hoc awards? Two different
dimensions of the 2014 decisions by the Ad Hoc Division seem relevant to elaborate on : the jurisdiction quandary (part. 1) and the selection
drama (part. 2). More...