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 “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment. By Marjolaine Viret and Emily Wisnosky

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
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

Editor's Note
Marjolaine Viret: An attorney-at-law at the Geneva bar, specialising in sports and health law. Her doctoral work in anti-doping was awarded a summa cum laude by the University of Fribourg in early 2015. She gained significant experience in sports arbitration as a senior associate in one of Switzerland’s leading law firms, advising clients, including major sports federations, on all aspects of anti-doping. She also holds positions within committees in sports organisations and has been involved in a variety of roles in the implementation of the 2015 WADC. Her book “Evidence in Anti-Doping at the Intersection of Science & Law” is scheduled for publication in 2015.

Emily Wisnosky: An attorney-at-law admitted to the California bar, she currently participates in the WADC 2015 Commentary research project as a doctoral researcher. She also holds an LLM from the University of Geneva in International Dispute Settlement, with a focus on sports arbitration. Before studying law, she worked as a civil engineer. More...

Blog Symposium: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies. By Herman Ram

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
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

Editor's note
Herman Ram is the Chief Executive Officer of the Anti-Doping Authority the Netherlands, which is the National Anti-Doping Organization of the country. He has held this position since 2006. After working twelve years as a librarian, Herman Ram started his career in sport management in 1992, when he became Secretary general of the Royal Netherlands Chess Federation. In 1994, he moved on to the same position at the Netherlands Badminton Federation. He was founder and first secretary of the Foundation for the Promotion of Elite Badminton that was instrumental in the advancement of Dutch badminton. In 2000 he was appointed Secretary general of the Netherlands Ski Federation, where he focused, among other things, on the organization of large snowsports events in the Netherlands. Since his appointment as CEO of the Anti-Doping Authority, he has developed a special interest in legal, ethical and managerial aspects of anti-doping policies, on which he has delivered numerous presentations and lectures. On top of that, he acts as Spokesperson for the Doping Authority. Herman Ram holds two Master’s degrees, in Law and in Sport Management. More...

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.More...

To pay or not to pay? That is the question. The case of O’Bannon v. NCAA and the struggle of student athletes in the US. By Zlatka Koleva

Editor's note
Zlatka Koleva is a graduate from the Erasmus University Rotterdam and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

The decision on appeal in the case of O’Bannon v. NCAA seems, at first sight, to deliver answers right on time regarding the unpaid use of names, images and likenesses (NILs) of amateur college athletes, which has been an ongoing debate in the US after last year’s district court decision that amateur players in the college games deserve to receive compensation for their NILs.[1] The ongoing struggle for compensation in exchange for NILs used in TV broadcasts and video games in the US has reached a turning point and many have waited impatiently for the final say of the Court of Appeal for the 9th circuit. The court’s ruling on appeal for the 9th circuit, however, raises more legitimate concerns for amateur sports in general than it offers consolation to unprofessional college sportsmen. While the appellate court agreed with the district court that NCAA should provide scholarships amounting to the full cost of college attendance to student athletes, the former rejected deferred payment to students of up to 5,000 dollars for NILs rights. The conclusions reached in the case relate to the central antitrust concerns raised by NCAA, namely the preservation of consumer demand for amateur sports and how these interests can be best protected under antitrust law. More...

The European Commission’s ISU antitrust investigation explained. By Ben Van Rompuy

In June 2014, two prominent Dutch speed skaters, Mark Tuitert (Olympic Champion 1500m) and Niels Kerstholt (World Champion short track), filed a competition law complaint against the International Skating Union (ISU) with the European Commission.

ChanceToCompeteTwitter.png (50.4KB)

Today, the European Commission announced that it has opened a formal antitrust investigation into International Skating Union (ISU) rules that permanently ban skaters from competitions such as the Winter Olympics and the ISU World and European Championships if they take part in events not organised or promoted by the ISU. The Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, stated that the Commission "will investigate if such rules are being abused to enforce a monopoly over the organisation of sporting events or otherwise restrict competition. Athletes can only compete at the highest level for a limited number of years, so there must be good reasons for preventing them to take part in events."

Since the case originates from legal advice provided by the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, we thought it would be helpful to provide some clarifications on the background of the case and the main legal issues at stake. More...

Interview with Wil van Megen (Legal Director of FIFPro) on FIFPro’s EU Competition Law complaint against the FIFA Transfer System

Editor’s note
Wil is working as a lawyer since 1980. He started his legal career at Rechtshulp Rotterdam. Later on he worked for the Dutch national trade union FNV and law firm Varrolaan Advocaten. Currently he is participating in the Labour Law Section of lawfirm MHZ-advocaten in Schiedam in the Netherlands. He is also a member of a joint committee advising the government in labour issues.

Since 1991 he is dealing with the labour issues of the trade union for professional football players VVCS and cyclists’ union VVBW. Since 2002, he works for FIFPro, the worldwide union for professional football players based in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. He is involved in many international football cases and provides legal support for FIFPro members all over the world. Wil was also involved in the FIFPro Black Book campaign on match fixing and corruption in Eastern Europe. More...

The Scala reform proposals for FIFA: Old wine in new bottles?

Rien ne va plus at FIFA. The news that FIFA’s Secretary General Jérôme Valcke was put on leave and released from his duties has been quickly overtaken by the opening of a criminal investigation targeting both Blatter and Platini.

With FIFA hopping from one scandal to the next, one tends to disregard the fact that it has been attempting (or rather pretending) to improve the governance of the organisation for some years now. In previous blogs (here and here), we discussed the so-called ‘FIFA Governance Reform Project’, a project carried out by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Mark Pieth of the Basel Institute on Governance. Their third and final report, published on 22 April 2014, listed a set of achievements made by FIFA in the area of good governance since 2011, such as establishing an Audit and Compliance Committee (A&C). However, the report also indicated the reform proposals that FIFA had not met. These proposals included the introduction of term limits for specific FIFA officials (e.g. the President) as well as introducing an integrity review procedure for all the members of the Executive Committee (ExCo) and the Standing Committees. More...

Why the CAS #LetDuteeRun: the Proportionality of the Regulation of Hyperandrogenism in Athletics by Piotr Drabik

Editor's note
Piotr is an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.


On 24 July the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued its decision in the proceedings brought by the Indian athlete Ms. Dutee Chand against the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in which she challenged the validity of the IAAF Regulations Governing Eligibility of Female with Hyperandrogenism to Compete in Women’s Competition (Regulations). The Regulations were established in 2011 as a response to the controversies surrounding South African athlete Caster Semenya (see e.g. here, here, and here), and for the purpose of safeguarding fairness in sport by prohibiting women with hyperandrogenism, i.e. those with excessive levels of endogenous (naturally occurring) testosterone, from competing in women athletics competitions. Owing to the subject-matter that the Regulations cover, the case before the CAS generated complex legal, scientific and ethical questions. The following case note thus aims at explaining how the Panel addressed the issues raised by the Indian athlete. It follows a previous blog we published in December 2014 that analysed the arguments raised in favour of Ms. Chand. More...

Not comfortably satisfied? The upcoming Court of Arbitration for Sport case of the thirty-four current and former players of the Essendon football club. By James Kitching

Editor's note: James Kitching is Legal Counsel and Secretary to the AFC judicial bodies at the Asian Football Confederation. James is an Australian and Italian citizen and one of the few Australians working in international sports law. He is admitted as barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of South Australia. James graduated from the International Master in the Management, Law, and Humanities of Sport offered by the Centre International d'Etude du Sport in July 2012.


On 12 May 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had filed an appeal against the decision issued by the Australian Football League (AFL) Anti-Doping Tribunal (AADT) that thirty-four current and former players of Essendon Football Club (Essendon) had not committed any anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) identified within the AFL Anti-Doping Code (AADC). The players had each been charged with using Thymosin-Beta 4 (TB4) during the 2012 AFL season.

On 1 June 2015, WADA announced that it had filed an appeal against the decision by the AADT to clear Mr. Stephen Dank (Dank), a sports scientist employed at Essendon during the relevant period, of twenty-one charges of violating the AADC. Dank was, however, found guilty of ten charges and banned for life.

This blog will solely discuss the likelihood of the first AADT decision (the Decision) being overturned by the CAS. It will briefly summarise the facts, discuss the applicable rules and decision of the AADT, review similar cases involving ‘non-analytical positive’ ADRVs relating to the use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method, and examine whether the Code of Sports-related Arbitration (CAS Code) is able to assist WADA in its appeal.

This blog will not examine the soap opera that was the two years leading-up to the Decision. Readers seeking a comprehensive factual background should view the excellent up-to-date timeline published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. More...

EU Law is not enough: Why FIFA's TPO ban survived its first challenge before the Brussels Court

Star Lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont is almost a monopolist as far as high profile EU law and football cases are concerned. This year, besides a mediatised challenge against UEFA’s FFP regulations, he is going after FIFA’s TPO ban on behalf of the Spanish and Portuguese leagues in front of the EU Commission, but also before the Brussels First Instance Court defending the infamous Malta-based football investment firm Doyen Sport. FIFA and UEFA’s archenemy, probably electrified by the 20 years of the Bosman ruling, is emphatically trying to reproduce his world-famous legal prowess. Despite a first spark at a success in the FFP case against UEFA with the Court of first instance of Brussels sending a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), this has proven to be a mirage as the CJEU refused, as foretold, to answer the questions of the Brussels Court, while the provisory measures ordered by the judge have been suspended due to UEFA’s appeal. But, there was still hope, the case against FIFA’s TPO ban, also involving UEFA and the Belgium federation, was pending in front of the same Brussels Court of First Instance, which had proven to be very willing to block UEFA’s FFP regulations. Yet, the final ruling is another disappointment for Dupont (and good news for FIFA). The Court refused to give way to Doyen’s demands for provisional measures and a preliminary reference. The likelihood of a timely Bosman bis repetita is fading away. Fortunately, we got hold of the judgment of the Brussels court and it is certainly of interest to all those eagerly awaiting to know whether FIFA’s TPO ban will be deemed compatible or not with EU law. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Chess and Doping: Two ships passing in the Night? By Salomeja Zaksaite, Postdoctoral researcher at Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania), and Woman International Chess Master (WIM)

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

Chess and Doping: Two ships passing in the Night? By Salomeja Zaksaite, Postdoctoral researcher at Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania), and Woman International Chess Master (WIM)

It may come as a surprise to laymen, but chess players are subjected to doping testing. Naturally, then, the questions follow as to why they are tested, and if they are really tested (at least, with a level of scrutiny comparable to that which physically-oriented athletes are regularly subjected).

The answer to the first question is two-fold. There is an “official” answer and a “pragmatic” answer. Regarding the ostensible one, rather typical doping terminology is employed: certain substances might enhance performance in chess, and thus, they are prohibited. A layperson might ask: “what substances are these?” One fair guess could be beta-blockers – those medications which help reduce heart rates in times of anxiety and thus contribute to clearer thinking, and which are prohibited inter alia in shooting. That sounds pretty sensible; however (mainly due of the lack of scientific evidence on the actual performance enhancing), beta-blockers are not prohibited in chess.[1] As far as I know, chess players do not use beta-blockers, and I cannot imagine that they ever actually will use them to enhance their performance. Nor do chess players use anabolics, EPO, growth hormones – or any other of the “classical” doping substances. What might be an issue is caffeine because of its stimulant properties, but it was excluded from the list of prohibited substances in 2004.[2]

So what are the substances chess players do use? The reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen drinks freshly squeezed orange juice and many top players drink either water or coffee, or both… This is “doping” for chess players. The aforementioned champion was tested several times and said that “there is not so much point of drugs testing in chess, I must admit. However, if I must, then I must.”[3] In 2008 Dresden Chess Olympiad, Vassily Ivanchuk refused to participate in a doping control and actually no penalties were applied as the whole chess community defended him. The official FIDE (World Chess Federation) statement was that he “apparently failed to understand the instructions, especially since English is not Mr. Ivanchuk’s first language.”[4] Such a “flexible” formulation employed by FIDE suggests that the anti-doping system hardly has a real deterrent effect on elite chess players.

Returning to the legal discourse, we should pose some fundamental questions originally coming from the jurisprudence of European Court of Human Rights. These questions read as follows: Is the anti-doping system restrictive, and is the restrictiveness proportionate to the aim that is being sought to achieve? The answer to the first question is positive: the doping system is undoubtedly restrictive. Testing might not only be unpleasant, but also, some accidental factors must be taken into account, and additional time is needed to grasp the medical instructions in order not to trigger a positive test because of some inadvertently taken substances. Most people might not know it, but ephedrine and its form pseudoephedrine[5] (used to treat nasal and sinus congestion and available as the well-known medicine Theraflu) are prohibited, as is heptaminol [6] which falls into Ginkorfort and/or other herbal products. These medicines are sold in pharmacy without a prescription. So, all the athletes – including chess players – should avoid such substances in-competition and some period before the competition. For instance, although the swimmer Frédérick Bousquet stated that he bought the incriminated medicine from a pharmacy, he was tested positive for the heptaminol in 2010, and handed a two month doping ban. Last but not least, each doping test costs about $400 USD. Therefore, some proportionality test should also be applied, weighing the costs and benefits of the anti-doping fight. Thus, to my mind the anti-doping system within the context of chess is not proportionate to achieve its aim – which is to create a level playing field and a clean game.

Perhaps, leaving the legal discourse aside is necessary to unveil the real (not postulated) aims lying behind the adoption of an anti-doping policy in chess. Indeed, political considerations overruled the proportionality test, and all the more interesting is that the chess community, in turn, “silently” accepted those pragmatic considerations. Guess what? Chess officials as well as players really want to get into the Olympic Games. In other words, the chess community would love being an Olympic sport, and hence, if we must, we would silently accept those unnecessary tests. To my knowledge, only a few players have ever been caught and punished. For instance, the games of two players were forfeited, since they refused to provide a sample to doping control at the Calvia Olympiad 2004.[7] It is quite a telling indicator of the potential gap between anti-doping rules and the practical implementation of those rules. And it is not because chess players are absolutely clean (who knows – perhaps they use cannabis or cocaine not less frequently than other athletes caught). It is because everyone understands that the system is designed not for chess, and therefore, “sensibly” does not strictly implement it.

Regarding the title of the blog post: chess players hardly could be associated with doping, but they are! Chess and doping could be compared to the two ships in the darkness that are just saying “hello” to each other, but not really communicating. Hence, we carry the little burden of some inconvenience related to doping testing, but the sweetness of such burden (that is the utopian hopes for inclusion in the Olympics, which probably will not come into effect in the upcoming decade or so) somehow compensates for such discomfort.

By Salomeja Zaksaite, Postdoctoral researcher[8] at Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania), and Woman International Chess Master (WIM)

[1] Beta-blockers are prohibited in Archery (WA) (also prohibited Out-of-Competition), Automobile (FIA), Billiards (all disciplines) (WCBS), Darts (WDF), Golf (IGF), Shooting (ISSF, IPC) (also prohibited Out-of-Competition), Skiing/Snowboarding (FIS) in ski jumping, freestyle aerials/halfpipe and snowboard halfpipe/big air,      

[2] In 2004, WADA took all caffeine products out of the prohibited list, in spite of the fact that some caffeine products, such as Animine, can induce serious heart problems and even death if taken in high dosages (de Mondenard, 2004). Quoted from: Paoli L., Donati A. (2014), The Sports Doping Market. Understanding Supply and Demand, and the Challenges of Their Control. Springer New York Heidelberg Dordrecht London, pp. 8.

[3] Venkata Krishna “Now, even Chess players subjected to dope testing”, 20 November 2013, .

[4]Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel, Wijk aan Zee (NED), 21 January 2009,

[5] Ephedrine is classified as a specified stimulant (S6) and is prohibited in-competition in all sports,

[6] Heptaminol is classified as a specified stimulant (S6) and is prohibited in-competition in all sports,

[7] Actually, the events at Calvia Olympiad are the most known to the chess community. One of those players wrote a blog post accusing FIDE of somewhat “highly flawed” disciplinary hearing.  Shaun Press “FIDE gets it right on drug testing”, 29 November 2008, Yet, of course, there were more attempts to test and sanction chess players for anti-doping violations. For example, 2013 WADA report indicates that there were 3 adverse analytical findings (AAF) within those tested (80 samples were taken), however, to my knowledge, the outcomes of these AAF are not publicly available. 2013 Anti‐Doping Testing Figures Samples Analyzed and Reported by Accredited Laboratories in ADAMS,, pp. 6.

[8] Postdoctoral fellowship is being funded by European Union Structural Funds project ”Postdoctoral Fellowship Implementation in Lithuania”,

Comments (2) -

  • Clifford

    7/24/2015 9:37:43 AM |

    You fail to consider that abiding by the testing regime may actually be damaging for the health of, particularly older, chessplayers.
    Hans Ree reported that one GM retired after health problems made worse by  abiding by the doping code and avoiding the best drugs for the illness.


    12/12/2015 10:02:38 AM |

    "certain substances might enhance performance in chess, and thus, they are prohibited"

    This is not really the case. The general WADA list of banned substances is used (though w/o the beta-blocker appendix), independent of whether such substances might actually enhance chess performance. WADA has repeatedly rejected arguments (in all sports) when a competitor tries to plead that a banned substance isn't really performance enhancing. The Anti-Doping Code is specific about this.

    FIDE had two people refuse tests in 2004 largely for political reasons (and a large number of grandmasters not compete in the first place), and the 2008 Ivanchuk incident, with a related refusal case in a national championship. Back then they might have been able to skirt it, but 10 years down the road, WADA will slap them as being non-compliant if they don't follow the protocol.

Comments are closed