The European Commission’s decisions of 4 July 2016 to order the recovery of the State aid granted to seven
Spanish professional football clubs
were in a previous blog called historic. It was
the first time that professional football clubs have been ordered to repay aid
received from (local) public authorities. Less attention has been given to five
other decisions also made public that day, which cleared support measures for five football clubs in the Netherlands. The clubs in question were PSV Eindhoven, MVV Maastricht, NEC Nijmegen,
FC Den Bosch and Willem II.
Given the inherent political sensitivity of State aid recovery
decisions, it is logical that the “Spanish decisions” were covered more widely
than the “Dutch decisions”. Furthermore, clubs like Real Madrid and FC
Barcelona automatically get more media attention than FC Den Bosch or Willem
II. Yet, even though the “Dutch decisions” are of a lower profile, from an EU
State aid law perspective, they are not necessarily less interesting.
A few days before entering the quiet month of August, the Commission
published the non-confidential versions of its decisions concerning PSV Eindhoven, Willem II and MVV Maastricht (hereinafter:
“MVV”). The swiftness of these publications is somewhat surprising, since it often
takes at least three months to solve all the confidentiality issues.
Nonetheless, nobody will complain (especially not me) about this opportunity to
analyze in depth these new decisions. More...
Editor's Note: Ryan is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University, he defended his PhD at Erasmus University Rotterdam in December 2015. His dissertation examined human rights violations caused by international sporting events, and how international sporting organisations may be held accountable for these violations.
On Sunday, August
21, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will end. The spotlight
will dim not only on the athletes who return to their home countries to ply their
trade in relative obscurity, but also on the country of Brazil.
Once the Games have ended, life will go ‘back to normal’, although for many
residents of Rio de Janeiro, what is ‘normal’ is anything but. More...
Editor's Note: Marjolaine is an attorney admitted to the Geneva bar (Switzerland) who specialises in sports and life sciences. She currently participates as a scientific collaborator at the University of Neuchâtel on a research project to produce the first article-by-article legal commentary of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code.
Over the past days, we have been flooded by
media reports discussing the “Caster Semenya-case”, reports rapidly relayed in
social networks. Since the debate has a distinct legal component and since
almost every report appears to draw significantly from the legal background, I granted
myself permission – as compensation so to speak - to publish a somewhat more personal,
less legal, post than I usually would.
Let me make one thing clear from the outset
– I am still ‘agnostic’ about the question of how to solve the issues
surrounding the male versus female divide in sports. Each time I have been
asked to write or speak on the subject, I have tried to stick to describing the
legal situation and its implications. I do not have the miracle solution as to
how to handle this infinitely complex issue. And I am not sure anyone can claim
to hold that solution at this point. Like everyone, I am doing my research and
trying to be humble enough to stay within the realm of my competences. More...
Editor’s note: Yann Hafner is a Phd researcher at the University of Neuchâtel specialized
in sports and nationality issues. He is also Legal Affairs Manager at the Fédération
Internationale de Volleyball. Yann is
an editor of the ASSER International Sports Law Blog and has previously
published on the blog on nationality conundrums at the FIFA World Cup 2014 in
Brazil (see here).
This contribution aims to decipher
the relationship between sporting nationality and the Olympic Games. To this
end, the author will first define sporting nationality and discuss athletes’
eligibility in national team in the context of the Olympic Games. Then,
selected issues in relation with sporting nationality and the Olympic Games
(with an emphasis on issues related to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games) will be investigated.
Editor's note: Marjolaine Viret and Emily Wisnosky are both editors of the ASSER International Sports Law Blog specialized in anti-doping matters, they are also involved in the World Anti-Doping Commentary project funded by the Swiss National Science Fund.
A remarkable aspect of the run-up to the 2016
Rio Olympic Games was the stream of negative media reports portraying
broad-scale public mistrust in sport, with the most prominent topic being the doping
scandals in athletics and questions surrounding the participation of Russia.
A different controversy, but one also
directed at the credibility of sports, has exposed a few female Olympians to
repeated, and at times rather intrusive, media scrutiny. In June 2016, it was reported
that Indian track-and-field athlete Dutee Chand had qualified for the Rio
Olympic Games by breaking the national record, thus to become the first Indian
athlete to run the 100m at the Olympics since 1980. The attention that Dutee
Chand’s qualification attracted within international media, however, was not
related only to her outstanding results. It came as part of a medical, ethical
and legal controversy that has existed for many years relating to ‘policing’
the male versus female divide in sports. Another athlete who has found herself
in the midst of this controversy is South African runner Semenya Caster, whose
participation in the Olympics has been the object of much
The divide between male and female athletes
forms the core of most sports’ competition rules, including athletics. The
justification for this basic divide has rarely been questioned as such, but has
been a matter for debate when it comes to handling atypical situations on both
sides of the ‘dividing line’ such as ‘transgender’ or ‘intersex’ athletes. A category of
athletes that has, especially, been viewed as a challenge to the divide is composed
of female athletes affected by ‘hyperandrogenism’, a health condition that
results in naturally elevated androgen levels, including testosterone levels.
On 24 July 2015, a CAS panel rendered a decision
involving Dutee Chand (“Dutee Chand” or “the Athlete”) that has fuelled the
ongoing debate about the policies regulating hyperandrogenism in sport. Much
has been reported in the media about the case: controversial issues include
whether the CAS was the appropriate forum to assess these questions; whether
the decision was appropriate, both on the merits and on the procedure; and what
the consequences of the CAS award would be, for the parties, for athletics and
for the sporting community at large.
Much like the current crisis surrounding
doping in sports, the public attention on women with (proven or suspected) hyperandrogenism
is driven by a concern that an athlete’s physiology – natural or artificially
induced could distort competition, destroying the ‘level playing field’
that supports the Olympic ideal. Both topics are also often brought back to the
goal of protecting an athlete’s health. Parallels are further found in the
strong reactions both topics evoke, and the steps taken by the regulating
authorities to convince the public that everything in their power is being done
to preserve a level playing field.
A less obvious but equally important point
of comparison can be found in the issues both topics raise concerning the legal
validity of decisions made by sports organizations, especially in a
science-related context. This blog focuses on those more ‘legal’ aspects,
through the prism of the decision of the CAS in the Dutee Chand matter and its
legal implications. After touching briefly on the
background of the case, we will comment on two aspects of the Chand award with
respect to challenges in regulating hyperandrogenism in sport within the
confines of the law: First from the viewpoint of a CAS panel called upon to
evaluate the validity of a set of regulations, and second from the viewpoint of
the sports organizations seeking to both adequately protect fairness in sport
and to provide a legally valid (and effective) regulatory solution.