Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Olympic Agenda 2020: To bid, or not to bid, that is the question!

This post is an extended version of an article published in August on

The recent debacle among the candidate cities for the 2022 Winter Games has unveiled the depth of the bidding crisis faced by the Olympic Games. The reform process initiated in the guise of the Olympic Agenda 2020 must take this disenchantment seriously. The Olympic Agenda 2020 took off with a wide public consultation ending in April and is now at the end of the working groups phase. One of the working groups was specifically dedicated to the bidding process and was headed by IOC vice-president John Coates.  More...

The CAS jurisprudence on match-fixing in football: What can we learn from the Turkish cases? - Part 2: The procedural aspects. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

With this blog post, we continue the blog series on Turkish match-fixing cases and our attempt to map the still unchartered waters of the CAS’s match-fixing jurisprudence.

The first blog post addressed two issues related to the substance of match-fixing disputes, namely the legal characterization of the match-fixing related measure of ineligibility under Article 2.08 of the UEL Regulations as administrative or disciplinary measure and the scope of application of Article 2.08. In addition, The Turkish cases have raised procedural and evidentiary issues that need to be dealt with in the framework of match-fixing disputes.

The CAS panels have drawn a clear line between substantial and procedural matters. In this light, the Eskişehirspor panel declared the nature of Article 2.08 UEL Regulations to be administrative and rejected the application of UEFA Disciplinary Regulations to the substance. Nonetheless, it upheld that disciplinary rules and standards still apply to the procedure. This conclusion, however, can be considered puzzling in that disciplinary rules apply to the procedural matters arising by a pure administrative measure. To this extent, and despite the bifurcation of different applicable rules into substantial and procedural matters, the credibility of the qualification of Article 2.08 as administrative seems to be undermined. And here a question arises: How can the application of rules of different nature to substantial and procedural matters in an identical match-fixing dispute be explained?More...

The EU State aid and Sport Saga – A blockade to Florentino Perez’ latest “galactic” ambitions (part 2)

This is the second part of a blog series on the Real Madrid State aid case. In the previous blog on this case, an outline of all the relevant facts was provided and I analysed the first criterion of Article 107(1) TFEU, namely the criterion that an advantage must be conferred upon the recipient for the measure to be considered State aid. Having determined that Real Madrid has indeed benefited from the land transactions, the alleged aid measure has to be scrutinized under the other criteria of Article 107(1): the measure must be granted by a Member State or through State resources; the aid granted must be selective; and it must distorts or threatens to distort competition. In continuation, this blog will also analyze whether the alleged aid measure could be justified and declared compatible with EU law under Article 107(3) TFEU.More...

The CAS jurisprudence on match-fixing in football: What can we learn from the Turkish cases? - Part 1 - By Thalia Diathesopoulou

The editor’s note:

Two weeks ago we received the unpublished CAS award rendered in the Eskişehirspor case and decided to comment on it. In this post Thalia Diathesopoulou (Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre) analyses the legal steps followed and interpretations adopted by CAS panels in this case and in a series of other Turkish match-fixing cases. The first part of the post will deal with the question of the legal nature of the ineligibility decision opposed by UEFA to clubs involved in one way or another into match-fixing and with the personal and material scope of UEFA’s rule on which this ineligibility is based. The second part is dedicated to the procedural rules applied in match-fixing cases.


The unpredictability of the outcome is a sine qua non feature of sports. It is this inherent uncertainty that draws the line between sports and entertainment and triggers the interest of spectators, broadcasters and sponsors. Thus, match-fixing by jeopardising the integrity and unpredictability of sporting outcomes has been described, along with doping, as one of the major threats to modern sport.[1] More...

Sport and EU Competition Law: uncharted territories - (I) The Swedish Bodybuilding case. By Ben Van Rompuy

The European Commission’s competition decisions in the area of sport, which set out broad principles regarding the interface between sports-related activities and EU competition law, are widely publicized. As a result of the decentralization of EU competition law enforcement, however, enforcement activity has largely shifted to the national level. Since 2004, national competition authorities (NCAs) and national courts are empowered to fully apply the EU competition rules on anti-competitive agreements (Article 101 TFEU) and abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU).

Even though NCAs have addressed a series of interesting competition cases (notably dealing with the regulatory aspects of sport) during the last ten years, the academic literature has largely overlooked these developments. This is unfortunate since all stakeholders (sports organisations, clubs, practitioners, etc.) increasingly need to learn from pressing issues arising in national cases and enforcement decisions. In a series of blog posts we will explore these unknown territories of the application of EU competition law to sport.More...

The Legia Warszawa case: The ‘Draconian’ effect of the forfeiture sanction in the light of the proportionality principle. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

The CAS denial of the urgent request for provisional measures filed by the Legia Warszawa SA in the course of its appeal against the UEFA Appeals Body Decision of 13 August 2014 put a premature end to Legia’s participation in the play-offs of the UEFA Champion’s League (CL) 2014/2015. Legia’s fans- and fans of Polish football - will now have to wait at least one more year to watch a Polish team playing in the CL group stage for the first time since 1996. More...

The EU State aid and Sport Saga – A blockade to Florentino Perez’ latest “galactic” ambitions (part 1)

This is the first part of a blog series involving the Real Madrid State aid case.

Apart from being favoured by many of Spain’s most important politicians, there have always been suspicions surrounding the world’s richest football club regarding possible financial aid by the Madrid City Council. Indeed, in the late 90’s a terrain qualification change by the Madrid City Council proved to be tremendously favourable to the king’s club. The change allowed Real Madrid to sell its old training grounds for a huge sum. Though the exact price for the grounds remains unknown, Real Madrid was suddenly capable of buying players like Figo and Zidane for record fees. However, the European Commission, even though agreeing that an advantage was conferred to the club, simply stated that the new qualification of the terrain in question does not appear to involve any transfer of resources by the State and could therefore not be regarded as State aid within the meaning of article 107 TFEU.

Agreements between the club and the Council have been a regularity for the last 25 years.  A more recent example concerns an agreement signed on 29 July 2011 (Convenio29-07-2011.pdf (8MB). More...

UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations Put PSG and Manchester City on a Transfer Diet

The main lesson of this year’s transfer window is that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules have a true bite (no pun intended). Surely, the transfer fees have reached usual highs with Suarez’s move to FC Barcelona and Rodriguez’s transfer from AS Monaco to Real Madrid and overall spending are roughly equal to 2013 (or go beyond as in the UK). But clubs sanctioned under the FFP rules (prominently PSG and Manchester City) have seemingly complied with the settlements reached with UEFA capping their transfer spending and wages. More...

Right to Privacy 1:0 Whereabouts Requirement - A Case Note on a Recent Decision by the Spanish Audiencia Nacional

On the 24th June 2014 the Spanish Audiencia Nacional issued its ruling on a hotly debated sports law topic: The whereabouts requirements imposed to athletes in the fight against doping. This blog aims to go beyond the existing commentaries (here and here) of the case, by putting it in the wider context of a discussion on the legality of the whereabouts requirements. More...

The Rules of the Electoral Game for the FIFA 2015 Presidential Elections

After the success of this year’s World Cup in Brazil, FIFA President Sepp Blatter can start concentrating on his Presidential campaign for next June’s FIFA elections. Even though the 78-year old Swiss is not officially a candidate yet, he is still very popular in large parts of the world, and therefore the favourite to win the race. Nonetheless, even for the highly experienced Mr. Blatter these elections will be different. All candidates will have to respect the newly introduced Electoral Regulations for the FIFA PresidencyMore...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Blog Symposium: The new WADA Code 2015 - Introduction

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Blog Symposium: The new WADA Code 2015 - Introduction

Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
Day 2: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

On 1 January, a new version of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC or Code) entered into force. This blog symposium aims at taking stock of this development and at offering a preliminary analysis of the key legal changes introduced. The present blog will put the WADC into a more general historical and political context. It aims to briefly retrace the emergence of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its Code. It will also reconstruct the legislative process that led to the adoption of the WADC 2015 and introduce the various contributions to the blog symposium.

I.              The WADA and its Code: A Short history

The WADA is a public-private hybrid governance body.[1] It is formally a Swiss foundation, but its executive bodies are composed equally of representatives of public authorities and Sports Governing Bodies (SGBs). The current president of WADA, Sir Craig Reedie, is also vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The WADA was created as a response to the massive doping scandal that marred the Tour de France in 1998. Its original aim was to “set unified standards for anti-doping work and coordinate the efforts of sports organizations and public authorities”. The idea of a specific global organization was submitted at a World Conference on Doping in Sport in Lausanne, in February 1999. A few months later, on 10 November 1999, the WADA was established.

WADA’s key task was, and still is, to devise the global set of uniform rules applicable to the anti-doping fight: the WADC. The first version of the WADC was finalized in 2003. After amendments were tabled, a second version of the Code entered into force in 2009. As the WADA does not dispose of any public (or private for that matter) authority to implement the Code, it must be transposed by the SGBs and governments at the national and international level to gain some teeth (a list of the current signatories can be accessed here). Compliance with the Code is compulsory for the whole Olympic Movement as provided by article 43 of the Olympic Charter. WADA’s main responsibility is to monitor and report on the compliance of various federations and States. The Code was first endorsed by States in the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping in Sport in 2003, and later supported by the adoption of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport in October 2005. The Convention is one of the most ratified UNESCO Conventions to date with 182 signatories.

The WADC 2015 is a long document of more than 150 pages, composed of 25 articles complemented with comprehensive comments. It defines the anti-doping rule violations[2], the burden of proof applicable to doping cases[3] and the functioning of the prohibited list.[4] The Code indicates also the technical procedure applicable to doping tests[5] and the procedural rights of suspected athletes.[6] Most importantly, it provides for the sanctions regime applicable in case of a violation.[7] The Code likewise regulates the potential appeal procedures.[8] The WADC is complemented by a set of five International Standards, which are mandatory for the signatories. Finally, the implementation of the Code is also supported by a set of Model Rules, Guidelines and Protocols.

As illustrated by the recent doping scandal involving the Russian Athletics Federation, the question of compliance with the Code is a prodigious challenge for WADA. The organisation’s raison d’être is threatened by the well-known gap between law in the books and law in action. This discrepancy between a global uniform code and its many local realities, has led to recent calls for WADA to be tasked with the implementation of the Code and to take charge of the testing process. The true impact of the Code 2015 will partially depend on the clarification of the competences and responsibilities of WADA in this regard.

II.            Making the Code 2015: The legislative process

The WADC 2015 is the result of a peculiar legislative process. WADA claims, since its early days, that the Code is a living document, subjected to a productive feedback chain. The revision of the WADC started at the end of 2011 and covered three different phases of consultation over a two-year period. Approximately 2000 proposals for amendments were submitted to the drafting team. In the end, the Code was approved on 15 November 2013 at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg.

A specific team managed the consultation process and each of the three consultation phases included a review and the approval from the WADA Executive Committee. The first phase started on 28 November 2011 whereby a call for comments was communicated to stakeholders (WADA does not indicate how it defines the reach of this category), and feedback was received from 90 stakeholders. The comments led to the drafting of the Draft Version 1.0 of the 2015 Code, which was approved by the WADA Executive Committee in May 2012. On 1 June 2012, the second phase of consultation was initiated with a new call for comments issued to all the “stakeholders”. Over a period of four months, WADA received feedback from more than 100 stakeholders, which was incorporated in the second Draft of the 2015 Code. Eventually, a third consultation phase took place from 3 December 2012 until 1 March 2013, which led to the Executive Committee adopting a third draft of the Code. The final mould of the Code was submitted to the World Conference on Doping in Sport, hosted in Johannesburg in November 2013.[9]  The WADA Foundation Board adopted the final version of the Code at the Conference.

WADA is adamant (and proud of the fact) that the Code was drafted in an inclusive and participative process. Although it is undeniably positive that many stakeholders had the opportunity to access and discuss the drafts of the Code, the specific reasons leading to the policy choices made remain largely undisclosed. It is extremely difficult to know why a proposed amendment made it into the new Code, and why another did not. Moreover, the scope of the notion of a stakeholder is key to define who gets to contribute. If, for example (as I suspect), the SGBs and NADOs are massively overrepresented amongst the stakeholders consulted, it gives them a disproportionate voice in the legislative process of the new Code. The transparency of the process is also lagging, as is illustrated by the fact that the comments are nowhere to be found on WADA’s new website.[10] This lack of transparency is worrying for an institution partially founded and managed by public authorities. In any event, improving the transparency and the inclusiveness of the adoption process of the WADC is a must to ensure that WADA fulfils the good governance standards it is aspiring to.  

III.         The Blog Symposium on the WADA Code 2015

This blog symposium includes four contributions from very different perspectives, by specialized academics, practitioners and an anti-doping administrator. They deal primarily with the various practical changes to the anti-doping fight induced by the new Code. The objective is to show how the Code has already changed the way the “anti-doping world” is operating, and the transformations it might still trigger in the future. The symposium is organized with the help of both Marjolaine Viret and Emily Wisnosky.

The first contribution by Herman Ram, the Head of the Dutch Doping Autoriteit, covers the impact of the WADC 2015 on the work of national anti-doping agencies. Ram highlights the various ways in which the Code has (or may) profoundly changed the operations of the Dutch NADA. In particular through its focus on a smarter anti-doping fight. He anticipates the stumbling blocks ahead and identifies the key trends already under way.

The second contribution by Marjolaine Viret (@MarjolaineViret) and Emily Wisnosky (@Ewisnosky), the two researchers involved in the cutting edge WADC-Commentary project alongside Prof. Antonio Rigozzi (@AntonioRigozzi), focus on the new Code’s influence on Athletes under medical treatment. They study closely the new legal regime applicable to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption and the potential sanctions faced by athletes under medical treatment who have not obtained a TUE before a positive anti-doping test.

The third contribution by Mike Morgan (@MSL_Mike), a lawyer specialized in anti-doping disputes, examines the new sanctions regime stemming out of the Code 2015. As pointed out in various recent academic contributions,[11] this is probably the most fundamental change introduced in the Code. It is in any case the most visible, since it will most vividly affect the athletes failing an anti-doping test. As Morgan shows, the new Code vows to introduce a degree of flexibility in the sanctions regime and to provide smarter, tailor-made, sanctions. Whether this aim will be achieve is still very much an open question.

Finally, Howard Jacobs (@athleteslawyer), also a lawyer specialized in anti-doping disputes, analyses the function of the notion of intent in the new Code. Indeed, one of the main innovations of the Code is the introduction of specific sanctions based on the intentional or non-intentional nature of the doping violation. This raises many legal questions linked especially with the burden of proof. Jacobs goes in great lengths to provide a clear analytical map of the problems ahead regarding the need to demonstrate the (non-)intentional nature of an anti-doping violation. He poses fundamental questions that will likely pop up in front of anti-doping tribunals and the CAS, and offers some preliminary answers. 

[1] Its atypical public-private institutional structure has stirred the attention of scholars of the Global Administrative Law movement. See L. Casini, ‘Global Hybrid Public-Private Bodies: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accessible at

[2] Article 2 WADC 2015

[3] Article 3 WADC 2015

[4] Article 4 WADC 2015

[5] Article 5,6,7 WADC 2015

[6] Article 8 WADC 2015

[7] Article 9,10, 11, 12 WADC 2015

[8] Article 13 WADC 2015

[9]Unfortunately, it is impossible to review the presentations and interventions made at the conference, as its website has been desactivated.

[10] Though they were online on the older version of the website.

[11] See, for example, A. Rigozzi,  U. Haas, E. Wisnosky and Marjolaine Viret, ‘Breaking down the process for determining a basic sanction under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code’, The International Sports Law Journal, June 2015, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 3-48 (available at


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