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

Taking the Blue Pill or the Red Pill: Should Athletes Really Check their Medications against the Prohibited List Personally? - A Comment by Marjolaine Viret (University of Neuchâtel )

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. Her latest book Evidence in Anti-Doping at the Intersection of Science & Law was published in 2016 in the International Sports Law Book Series of T.M.C. ASSER Press.


On 30 September 2016, a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) rendered its award in the matter opposing high-profile tennis player Maria Sharapova to the International Tennis Federation (“ITF”). Maria Sharapova was appealing the two-year ban imposed on her by the ITF Tribunal in June 2016 for her use of Meldonium, a substance newly added to the WADA Prohibited List 2016[1]. Since neither the ITF nor WADA had chosen to challenge the Tribunal’s decision, the stakes of the case were rather simple: would the player convince the CAS panel that she should benefit from a finding of “No Significant Fault or Negligence”[2], thereby allowing for a reduction of the sanction down to a minimum of one year, or should the decision of the Tribunal be upheld? In its award, the CAS panel decided to grant such finding and reduced the sanction to 15 months.

This blog does not purport to be a ‘comment’ on the CAS award. Rather, it seeks to place the Sharapova matter into a broader context with respect to a specific issue: the expectations on Athletes when it comes to their awareness of the prohibited character of a substance, specifically when taking a medication[3]. In July 2016, I presented at the T.M.C Asser Institute in The Hague various current challenges of anti-doping that the Meldonium cases exposed (see the video here). One of these challenges concerned the modalities for including new substances onto the Prohibited List. This blog represents a follow-up on my presentation, in the light of the findings contained in the CAS award. More...

Case note: State aid Decision on the preferential corporate tax treatment of Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna and FC Barcelona

On 28 September 2016, the Commission published the non-confidential version of its negative Decision and recovery order regarding the preferential corporate tax treatment of Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna and FC Barcelona. It is the second-to-last publication of the Commission’s Decisions concerning State aid granted to professional football clubs, all announced on 4 July of this year.[1] Contrary to the other “State aid in football” cases, this Decision concerns State aid and taxation, a very hot topic in today’s State aid landscape. Obviously, this Decision will not have the same impact as other prominent tax decisions, such as the ones concerning Starbucks and Apple


This case dates back to November 2009, when a representative of a number of investors specialised in the purchase of publicly listed shares, and shareholders of a number of European football clubs drew the attention of the Commission to a possible preferential corporate tax treatment of the four mentioned Spanish clubs.[2]More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – September 2016. By Kester Mekenkamp

Editor’s note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.

The Headlines

September hosted the very last bit of the sport summer 2016, most notably in the form of the Rio Paralympic Games. Next to the spectacular achievements displayed during these games, in the realm of sports law similar thrilling developments hit town. The first very much expected #Sportslaw highlight was the decision by the German Bundesgerichtshof in the case concerning SV Wilhelmshaven. The second major (less expected) story was the Statement of Objections issued by the European Commission against the International Skating Union.More...

De- or Re-regulating the middlemen? The DFB’s regulation of intermediaries under EU law scrutiny at the OLG Frankfurt. By Antoine Duval and Kester Mekenkamp.

Football intermediaries, or agents, are again under attack in the news. For some, corrupt behaviour has become endemic in football’s culture. It is always dangerous to scapegoat a whole profession or a group of people. Many intermediaries are trying their best to lawfully defend the interests of their clients, but some are not. The key focus should be on providing an adequate legal and administrative framework to limit the opportunities for corrupt behaviour in the profession. This is easier said than done, however. We are dealing with an intrinsically transnationalized business, often conducted by intermediaries who are not subjected to the disciplinary power of federations. Sports governing bodies are lacking the police power and human resources necessary to force the intermediaries to abide by their private standards. In this context, this blog aims to review a recent case in front of the regional court of Frankfurt in Germany, which highlights the legal challenges facing (and leeway available to) national federations when regulating the profession. More...

Case note: TAS 2016/A/4474 Michel Platini c. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. By Marine Montejo

Editor's note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

On 3 June 2015, Sepp Blatter resigned as President of FIFA after another corruption scandal inside the world’s football governing body was brought to light by the American authorities supported by the Swiss prosecutor office. Two months after Michel Platini announced he would be a candidate for the next FIFA Presidential election, on 25 September 2015, the Swiss prosecutor opened an investigation against S. Blatter on an alleged disloyal payment he authorised to M. Platini. On 8 October 2015, the FIFA Ethics Committee announced both of them were provisionally suspended upon their hearings, a suspension that was later confirmed by CAS. In the end, M. Platini was sanctioned with an eight years ban from all football activities, later reduced to a six years ban by FIFA Appeal Commission on 24 February 2016. In the meantime, he withdrew his candidacy to become the next FIFA President. On 9 May 2016, after M. Platini appealed this sanction, the CAS confirmed the suspension but reduced it to four years, leading to his resignation from the UEFA presidency and the announcement of his intention to challenge the CAS award in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

On 19 September, the CAS finally published the full text of the award in the dispute between M. Platini and FIFA. The award is in French as M. Platini requested that the procedure be conducted in that language. You will find below a summary of the ‘highlights’ of the 63-page decision. More...

The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act V: Saving the last (Russian) woman standing: The Klishina miracle

Editor's note: This is the (belated) fifth part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio. The other acts are available at:

Act V: Saving the last (Russian) woman standing: The Klishina miracle 

Darya Klishina is now an Olympic celebrity. She will enter the history books not because she won a gold medal or beat a world record. Instead, her idiosyncrasy lies in her nationality: she was the sole Russian athlete authorized to stand in the athletics competitions at the Rio Olympics. And yet, a few days before the start of the long jumping contest in which she was due to take part, the IAAF surprisingly decided to revoke her eligibility (‘And Then There Were None’). But Klishina appealed the decision to the CAS ad hoc Division and, as all of you well-informed sports lawyers will know, she was allowed to compete at the Olympics and finished at a decent ninth place of the long jump finals.

Two important questions are raised by this case:

  • Why did the IAAF changed its mind and decide to retract Klishina’s authorization to participate?
  • Why did the CAS overturn this decision? More...

The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act IV: On Bringing a sport into disrepute

Editor's note: This is the fourth part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.

Act IV: On Bringing a sport into disrepute

Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: “The IFs will also have to apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NFs.” 


In paragraph 2 of its Decision, the IOC mentioned the possibility for IFs to “apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NF's”.This is exactly what the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) did when it decided on 29 July 2016 to exclude the whole Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF) from the Rio Olympics for having brought the sport into disrepute. Indeed, Article 12. 4 of the IWF Anti-doping Policy, foresees that:

“If any Member federation or members or officials thereof, by reason of conduct connected with or associated with doping or anti-doping rule violations, brings the sport of weightlifting into disrepute, the IWF Executive Board may, in its discretion, take such action as it deems fit to protect the reputation and integrity of the sport.”More...

The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act III: On being sufficiently tested

Editor's note: This is the third part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.

Act III: On being sufficiently tested 

Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: “The IFs should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.”

Daniil Andienko and 16 other members of the Russian rowing team challenged the decision of the World Rowing Federation (FISA) to declare them ineligible for the Rio Olympics. The FISA Executive Committee took the decision on 24 July 2016 because they had not “undergone a minimum of three anti-doping tests analysed by a WADA accredited laboratory other than the Moscow laboratory and registered in ADAMS from 1 January 2015 for an 18 month period”.[1] In their submissions, the Russian applicants did not challenge the IOC Decision, and thus the criteria enshrined in paragraph 2, but only its application by FISA.[2] The Russian athletes argued that FISA’s decision deviated from the IOC Decision in that it was imposing as an additional requirement that rowers must “have undergone a minimum of three anti-doping tests analysed by a WADA accredited laboratory other than the Moscow laboratory and registered in ADAMS from 1 January 2015 for an 18-month period”.[3] The Panel acknowledged that “the IOC Executive Board decision does not refer explicitly to the requirement of three tests or to a period of 18 months”.[4] Nonetheless, it “finds that the Challenged Decision is in line with the criteria established by the IOC Executive Board decision”.[5] Indeed, the IOC’s Decision “provides that in order to examine whether the level playing field is affected or not (when admitting a Russian athlete to the Rio Olympic Games), the federation must look at the athlete's respective anti-doping record, i.e. examine the athlete's anti-doping tests” and that “[i]n doing so, the IOC Executive Board decision specifies that only "reliable adequate international tests" may be taken into account”.[6] In this regard, the Panel, and FISA, share the view that “a reliable adequate international test can only be assumed if the sample has been analyzed in a WADA-accredited laboratory outside Russia”.[7]More...

The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act II: On being implicated

Editor's note: This is the second part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.


Act II: On being implicated

Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: The IFs to examine the information contained in the IP Report, and for such purpose seek from WADA the names of athletes and National Federations (NFs) implicated. Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games.”


The second, and by far largest, wave of complaints involved Russian athletes barred from the game under paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision. None of those were successful in their appeals as the CAS sided with those IFs which took a tough stance with regard to the Russian State doping system. The first set of cases turned on the definition of the word “implicated” in the sense of paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision. In this regard, on 2 August the IOC sent a communication to the IFs aiming at providing some general guidelines. It reads as follows:

"In view of the recent appeals filed by Russian Athletes with CAS, the IOC considers it necessary to clarify the meaning of the notion "implicated" in the EB Decision.

The IOC does not consider that each athlete referred to in the McLaren Lists shall be considered per se "implicated. It is for each International federation to assess, on the basis of the information provided in the McLaren lists and the Independent Person Report, whether it is satisfied that the Athlete in question was implicated in the Russian State-controlled doping scheme.

To assist the International Federations in assessing each individual case, the IOC wishes to provide some information. In the IOC's opinion, an athlete should not be considered as "implicated" where:

·       The order was a "quarantine".

·       The McLaren List does not refer to a prohibited substance which would have given rise to an anti-doping rule violation or;

·       The McLaren List does not refer to any prohibited substance with respect to a given sample."

The CAS went on to address this question concretely in three cases analysed below. More...

The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act I: Saved by the Osaka Déjà-Vu

Since it was first introduced at the Atlanta Games in 1996,[1] the CAS ad hoc Division has never been as crowded as it was during this year’s Rio Olympics. This is mainly due to the Russian doping scandal, which has fuelled the CAS with Russian athletes challenging their ineligibility to compete at the Games. The CAS recently revealed that out of 28 awards rendered, 16 involved Russian athletes challenging their ineligibility. This Russian ballet is a direct result of the shocking findings of Richard McLaren’s Independent Person (IP) Report ordered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). McLaren’s investigation demonstrated that the Russian State was coordinating a sophisticated doping system. The revelation triggered an outrage in the media and amongst other competitors. Numerous calls (especially by WADA and various National Anti-Doping Organisations) were heard urging the IOC to ban the entire Russian delegation from the Olympics. The IAAF decided to exclude the whole Russian athletics team, [2] with the exception of Darya Klishina, but, to the disappointment of many, the IOC refused to heed these calls and decided, instead, to put in place a specific procedure to assess on a case-by-case basis the eligibility of Russian athletes.

The IOC’s Decision (IOC Decision) of 24 July foresees that the International Federations (IFs) are competent to determine whether each Russian athlete put forward by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to participate in the Olympics meets a specific set of conditions. Moreover, the ROC was also barred from entering athletes who were sanctioned for doping in the past, even if they have already served their doping sanction. In the end, a majority of the Russian athletes (278 out of 389 submitted by the ROC) cleared the IOC’s bar relatively easily, but some of them did not, and many of the latter ended up fighting for their right to compete at the Rio Olympics before the CAS ad hoc Division.[3] In the following blogs, I will analyse the ten published CAS awards related to Russian athletes.[4] It is these legal fights that I suggest to chronicle in the following parts of this blog. To do so, I have divided them in five different (and analytically coherent) Acts:

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Doping Paradize – How Jamaica became the Wild West of Doping

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

Doping Paradize – How Jamaica became the Wild West of Doping

Since the landing on the sporting earth of the Übermensch, aka Usain Bolt, Jamaica has been at the centre of doping-related suspicions. Recently, it has been fueling those suspicions with its home-made scandal around the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO). The former executive of JADCO, Renee Anne Shirley, heavily criticized its functioning in August 2013, and Jamaica has been since then in the eye of the doping cyclone.

In light of the reluctance of Jamaica to remedy the failures of JADCO, the World Ani-Doping Agency (WADA) ordered a formal review of the anti-doping practices on the Island. In case of a negative report, WADA would have declared Jamaica non-compliant, this would in turn trigger sanctions by Sport Governing Bodies, in extreme cases even a full ban from major international events (Olympic Games or World Cups). In order to avoid such a dire fate the sporting Minister of Jamaica and the head of WADA met on November 2013 and a reform plan for the Jamaican anti-doping organisations was agreed. The minister accepted to undertake a legislative review of anti-doping law in Jamaica and to evaluate JADCO’s governance and management structure. Furthermore, the Jamaican government allocated new funds to the fight against doping. In short, JADCO is being restructured, this is very much a work in progress, but WADA is strongly backing the reforms so far.

Furthermore, in 2013, Jamaican track and field athletes have been hit by a strange string of positive doping cases: Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson, Veronique Campbell-Brown, Allison Randall,  Damar Robinson, and (in 2012) Dominique Blake. All those cases lead to sporting bans of various lengths by Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association’s  (JAAA) Disciplinary Panel. However, even the Jamaican doping justice is scrambling, the probity of some judges have been doubted and calls to reverse the bans in the cases of Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson have been heard. Anyhow, the cases will probably end up in front of CAS.

Before CAS, the weaknesses of the Jamaican anti-doping system became overt in the Campbell-Brown case. Indeed, in that case, the JADCO acknowledged that it had been, as a matter of policy choice, constantly ignoring the WADA International Standards for Testing. Thus, CAS was prompt to assert that “systematic and knowing failure, for which no reasonable explanation has been advanced, is deplorable and gives rise to the most serious concerns about the overall integrity of the JAAA’s anti-doping processes, as exemplified in this case by the flaws in JADCO’s sample collection and its documentation” (§182). Consequently, the ban on Veronique Campbell-Brown was lifted. Additionally, in a recent decision (2 May 2014) in the Dominique Blake case, CAS reduced the 6-year ban to 4,5 years because, among other reasons, “she was provided with barely any anti-doping education” and “she has only had one previous experience with doping control (when she was 19 years-old)”.

What kind of lessons does the fiasco of the anti-doping system in Jamaica holds for the whole World Anti-Doping edifice? Well, first, that the local level matters a lot. Indeed, if local authorities are inefficient and/or unwilling to address the various dimensions (education, compliance, enforcement) of the anti-doping fight, the WADA and its rules lose relevance. This might engender loopholes in the global anti-doping regime, thus creating discrepancies between athletes. Indeed, some might be very strictly monitored due to their residence being in a complying country, while others will systematically escape any control or punishment due to insufficient procedural standards. Hence, for the WADA Regime to be successful in reining in doping and ensuring a level playing field for athletes, WADA must urgently warrant that enforcement asymmetries are avoided.

Comments (7) -

  • hugh

    5/7/2014 8:44:48 PM |

    this describes the true state of affairs, within the jaaa, any truly logical individual understands that bans have and should be very stringent ,,,for the sake of the clean athlete , regardless of colour or creed religion etc...

  • Dowie Ty

    5/8/2014 1:49:24 AM |

    And how did Jamaica become the wild west of doping? I have not seen the answer in your poorly written blog. One Jamaican athlete who reside and train in the USA tested positive for a STEROID all the others tested positive for STIMULANTs which can be found in energy drinks on the market( in Asafa's and Sherones case it was not listed as an the ingredient) secondly these athletes compete on the Diamond League Circuit and are tested at every event and was only caught in Jamaica; this means that Jamaica does a better Job than our international partners.......thirdly This article was written to draw attention from the Tyson Gay Fiasco of a punishment for STEROID use..... Guess what....You and your crew can't shake us....we're bigger than you and your negativity; so please go shove it....

    • Antoine Duval

      5/8/2014 8:09:35 AM |

      Dear Dowie and Junior,

      There seem to be a little misunderstanding here. This article is not claiming that all Jamaican athlete are doped, it is meant to show that when the national anti-doping institutions fail, as arguably JADCO does, asymmetries in the anti-doping fight build up. Stimulants as you say can be found in energy drinks, but in many countries despite that fact athletes to get long bans, because that is the way the World Anti-Doping Code wants it. Therefore this article is more a wake-up call for WADA than anything else, there need to be support and monitoring of JADCO to ensure equality and due process rights for athletes. This is necessary to warrant the credibility of Jamaican athletes.

  • kevin

    5/8/2014 5:40:04 AM |

    i don't know why this moron is tying to paint a doping haven an our athletes he doesn't know $hit about us we eat sleep and breathe track and field look at our grass roots programs they start from kindergarten.we will be ruling for a very long time so stop hating and get use to it.we have two of the best coaches ever we don't do steroids,  the anti doping banned list is like a mine field you can eat a burger and something in it cause you to test positive for a stimulant. take for example shelly took a pain killer after a toothe extraction and ended up testing positive for a banned substance.don't try to shift the attention get lost.

    • Antoine Duval

      5/8/2014 8:18:18 AM |

      Dear Kevin,

      Indeed, one can criticize the World Anti-Doping Code and its functioning, and guess what, I did it! (One post earlier about cocaine:

      This post is not designed against Jamaican athletes, however the desperate stage of JADCO (acknowledged by JADCO and CAS) is a  source of concern for those athletes as it reinforces suspicions. Thus, what I call for in the article, probably it was not clear enough, is that WADA enhances its support and monitoring of JADCO, in order to ensure that the transnational standards of the anti-doping fight are enforced in a similar fashion as elsewhere.

  • Kirkland Davis

    5/9/2014 2:55:59 AM |

    Sensationalism! Insinuating that the sporting landscape in Jamaica is the "wild west" is disingenuous. The implication is that there is no concern for the rule of law (the WADA code) nor is there enforcement of the law. JADCO is an underfunded organization in a poor country which just happens to have the world's best sprinters at this time, notwithstanding the funding constraints and procedural mistakes every single positive test mentioned in the article was as a result of testing administered by the same beleaguered JADCO. How is Jamaica a doping paradise when some of our top athletes have returned positives? This is not a country where a doping positive is a small matter, athletes are shamed and looked upon as having brought disgrace to our country if they are guilty of a doping offence. If Jamaica was indeed a "doping paradise" or "the wild west of doping" any athlete choosing to use performance enhancing drugs or an athlete who inadvertently ingests a banned substance would be allowed to do so with impunity, instead they are suspended, tried and banned by Jamaicans in Jamaica.
    Your implication that there is a culture of doping in Jamaica has not been supported by facts and your sensational headline is meant to draw attention and views. It can be speculated and this writer believes your motivations stem from jealousy and the disbelief that a small poor island can dominate the world in sprinting and not any honest attempt to explore the actual situation in Jamaica. I read this as another salvo in the bid to discredit the performances of all Jamaica's athletes, but our assembly line continues.

  • Tim Kerr

    5/9/2014 4:05:27 PM |

    We all know when things are too good to be true , they are not true, just saying. All secrets find a way out and they will . Hopefully some athletes will be clean and win on talent alone.

Comments are closed