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

Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold: Dissecting the Swiss Federal Tribunal’s Semenya Decision - By Marjolaine Viret

Editor's note: Marjolaine is a researcher and attorney admitted to the Geneva bar (Switzerland) who specialises in sports and life sciences.

 

On 25 August 2020, the Swiss Supreme Court (Swiss Federal Tribunal, SFT) rendered one of its most eagerly awaited decisions of 2020, in the matter of Caster Semenya versus World Athletics (formerly and as referenced in the decision: IAAF) following an award of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). In short, the issue at stake before the CAS was the validity of the World Athletics eligibility rules for Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD Regulation). After the CAS upheld their validity in an award of 30 April 2019, Caster Semenya and the South African Athletics Federation (jointly: the appellants) filed an application to set aside the award before the Swiss Supreme Court.[1] The SFT decision, which rejects the application, was made public along with a press release on 8 September 2020.

There is no doubt that we can expect contrasted reactions to the decision. Whatever one’s opinion, however, the official press release in English does not do justice to the 28-page long decision in French and the judges’ reasoning. The goal of this short article is therefore primarily to highlight some key extracts of the SFT decision and some features of the case that will be relevant in its further assessment by scholars and the media.[2]

It is apparent from the decision that the SFT was very aware that its decision was going to be scrutinised by an international audience, part of whom may not be familiar with the mechanics of the legal regime applicable to setting aside an international arbitration award in Switzerland.

Thus, the decision includes long introductory statements regarding the status of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the role of the Swiss Federal Tribunal in reviewing award issued by panels in international arbitration proceedings. The SFT also referred extensively throughout its decision to jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), rendered in cases related to international sport and the CAS. More...

New Transnational Sports Law Articles Released on SSRN - Antoine Duval

I have just released on SSRN four of my most recent articles on Lex Sportiva/Transnational Sports Law. The articles are available open access in their final draft forms, the final published version might differ slightly depending on the feedback of the editors. If you wish to cite those articles I (obviously) recommend using the published version.

I hope they will trigger your attention and I look forward to any feedback you may have!

Antoine


Abstract: This chapter focuses on the emergence of a transnational sports law, also known as lex sportiva, ruling international sports. In the transnational law literature, the lex sportiva is often referred to as a key example or case study, but rarely studied in practice. Yet, it constitutes an important playground for transnational legal research and practice, and this chapter aims to show why. The focus of the chapter will first be on the rules of the lex sportiva. Law, even in its transnational form, is still very much connected to written rules against which a specific behaviour or action is measured as legal or illegal. As will be shown, this is also true of the lex sportiva, which is structured around an ensemble of rules produced through a variety of law-making procedures located within different institutions. The second section of this chapter will aim to look beyond the lex sportiva in books to narrate the lex sportiva in action. It asks, what are the institutional mechanisms used to concretize the lex sportiva in a particular context? The aim will be to go beyond the rules in order to identify the processes and institutions making the lex sportiva in its daily practice. Finally, the enmeshment of the lex sportiva with state-based laws and institutions is highlighted. While the lex sportiva is often presented as an autonomous transnational legal construct detached from territorialized legal and political contexts, it is shown that in practice it operates in intimate connection with them. Hence, its transnational operation is much less characterized by full autonomy than assemblage.


Abstract: This chapter aims to show that the work of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’), which is often identified as the institutional centre of the lex sportiva, can be understood as that of a seamstress weaving a plurality of legal inputs into authoritative awards. In other words, the CAS panels are assembling legal material to produce (almost) final decisions that, alongside the administrative practices of sports governing bodies (‘SGBs’), govern international sports. It is argued that, instead of purity and autonomy, the CAS’ judicial practice is best characterised by assemblage and hybridity. This argument will be supported by an empirical study of the use of different legal materials, in particular pertaining to Swiss law, EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), within the case law of the CAS. The chapter is a first attempt at looking at the hermeneutic practice of the CAS from the perspective of a transnational legal pluralism that goes beyond the identification of a plurality of autonomous orders to turn its sights towards the enmeshment and entanglement characterising contemporary legal practice.


Abstract: Has the time come for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to go public? This article argues that after the Pechstein decision of the European Court of Human Rights, CAS appeal arbitration must be understood as forced arbitration and therefore must fully comply with the due process guarantees enshrined in Article 6(1) ECHR. In particular, this entails a strong duty of transparency with regard to the hearings at the CAS and the publication of its awards. This duty is of particular importance since the rationale for supporting the validity of CAS arbitration, if not grounded in the consent of the parties, must be traced back to the public interest in providing for the equality before the (sports) law of international athletes. Thus, the legitimacy and existence of the CAS is linked to its public function, which ought to be matched with the procedural strings usually attached to judicial institutions. In short, if it is to avoid lengthy and costly challenges to its awards, going public is an urgent necessity for the CAS.


Abstract: In 1998 the FIFA welcomed the Palestinian Football Association as part of its members - allegedly, as an attempt by then FIFA President, the Brazilian João Havelange, to showcase football as an instrument of peace between Israeli and Palestinians. Ironically, almost 20 years after Palestine’s anointment into the FIFA family, instead of peace it is the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians that moved to FIFA. In recent years the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and the Israeli Football Association (IFA) have been at loggerheads inside FIFA over the fate - I will refer to it as the transnational legality – of five (and then six) football clubs affiliated to the IFA which are physically located in the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This chapter chronicles the legal intricacies of this conflict, which will serve as a backdrop to discuss arguments raised regarding the legality of business activities of corporations connected to the Israeli settlements. Indeed, as will be shown in the first part of this chapter, the discussion on the legality of economic activities in the OPT has recently taken a business and human rights turn involving systematic targeting of corporations by activists. Interestingly, we will see that this business and human rights turn also played a role in the conflict between the IFA and the PFA. This case study is therefore an opportunity to examine how the strategy of naming and shaming private corporations, and in our case not-for-profit associations, for their direct or indirect business involvement in the settlements has fared. It is also an occasion to critically assess the strength of the human rights ‘punch’ added to the lex sportiva, by the UNGPs.

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – June - August 2020 by Thomas Terraz

Editor's note: This report compiles the most relevant legal news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. 

 

 

The Headlines

CAS Decision on Manchester City FC Case

After the UEFA’s Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control’s (CFCB) decision earlier this year to ban Manchester City FC for two seasons, observers waited impatiently to see the outcome of this high profile dispute. The CFCB’s decision had found that Manchester City FC overstated sponsorship revenues and in its break-even information given to UEFA. While some feared this showdown could lead to the demise of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, the now publicized CAS panel’s decision is more nuanced. The panel’s decision turned on (see analysis here and here) (a) whether the ‘Leaked Emails’ were authentic and could be admissible evidence, (b) whether the ‘CFCB breached its obligations of due process’, (c) whether the conclusions of the 2014 Settlement Agreement prevents the CFCB from charging Manchester City FC, (d) whether the charges are time-barred, (e) the applicable standard of proof, (f) whether Manchester City FC masked equity funding as sponsorship contributions, and (g) whether Manchester City FC failed to cooperate with CFCB. In the end, among other findings, the Panel held that some of the alleged breaches were time-barred but maintained that Manchester City FC had failed to cooperate with CFCB’s investigation. In light of this, the Panel significantly reduced the sanction placed on Manchester City FC by removing the two-season suspension and reducing the sanction from 30 million euros to 10 million euros.

 

Qatar Labour Law Reforms Effectively Abolishes the Kafala System

Just a few days after Human Rights Watch released a lengthy report on abusive practices suffered by migrant workers in Qatar, Qatar adopted a series of laws that effectively gets rid of the Kafala system by no longer requiring migrant workers to obtain a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from their employer in order to start another job. The International Labour Organization declared that this development along with the elimination of the ‘exit permit requirements’ from earlier this year means that the kafala system has been effectively abolished. In addition to these changes, Qatar has also adopted a minimum wage that covers all workers and requires that employers who do not provide food or housing at least give a minimum allowance for both of these living costs. Lastly, the new laws better define the procedure for the termination of employment contracts.

In reaction to these changes, Amnesty International welcomed the reforms and called for them to be ‘swiftly and properly implemented’. Indeed, while these amendments to Qatar’s labour laws are a step in the right direction, Amnesty International also cautions that the minimum wage may still be too low, and in order to be effective, these new laws will have to be followed with ‘strong inspection and complaint mechanisms’.

 

CAS Decision Concerning Keramuddin Karim Abuse Case

In June of last year, Keramuddin Karim, former president of Afghanistan’s soccer federation, was banned by FIFA for life (see the decision of the adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee) after reports of sexual and physical abuse that emerged in late 2018. Following a lengthy and tumultuous investigation in Afghanistan, Afghan officials came forward with an arrest warrant for Mr. Karim. Nevertheless, despite attempts to apprehend Mr. Karim, Mr. Karim has still avoided arrest over a year later. Most recently in August, Afghan Special Operation officers attempted to apprehend him but he was not at the residence when they arrived.

Meanwhile, Mr. Karim had appealed FIFA’s lifetime ban to the CAS and the CAS Panel’s decision has recently been released. In its decision, the Panel upheld both the lifetime ban and the 1,000,000 CHF fine, finding that due to the particular egregious nature of Karim’s acts, ‘they warrant the most severe sanction possible available under the FCE’. Since both Karim and his witnesses were unable to be heard, the case raises questions connected to the respect of fundamental procedural rights at the CAS.  More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – March-May 2020 by Thomas Terraz

Editor's note: This report compiles the most relevant legal news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. 

 

The Headlines

Coronavirus Pandemic Takes Over Sports

Since the last monthly report, the coronavirus pandemic has completely taken over the headlines and has had enormous impacts on the sports field. The most significant of these impacts so far was the rather slow (see here and here) decision by the IOC to move the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to 2021 after a widespread push among athlete stakeholders to do so. Concerns were raised that besides the wellbeing of the participants, athletes under lockdowns would not have the access to the training facilities, meaning preparations for the Games would suffer. The IOC has already started its new planning for Tokyo 2021 and sees this new opportunity to be ‘an Olympic flame’ at the end of a ‘dark tunnel’ for the entire world.

Besides the Olympics, football has also experienced colossal effects as this crisis landed right as leagues were approaching the end of their season. In this context, FIFA has released specific guidelines on player contracts and transfer windows, which has included extending player contracts to the new postponed end of season dates. It has also organized a working group on COVID-19, which has already made recommendations to postpone all men and women’s international matches that were to be played during the June 2020 window. Earlier in March, UEFA had already announced that the EURO 2020 was also postponed by 12 months and has also recently approved guidelines on domestic competitions. These guidelines place emphasis on ‘sporting merit’ and urge ‘National Associations and Leagues to explore all possible options to play all top domestic competitions giving access to UEFA club competitions to their natural conclusion’. Nevertheless, UEFA also emphasizes that the health of all stakeholders must remain the top priority.

In the end, numerous sport federations have also had to amend their calendars due to the pandemic (see UCI and FIBA) and a variety of sport stakeholders have been confronted with immense financial strain (e.g. football, tennis and cycling). For example, UEFA has acted preemptively in releasing club benefit payments to try to alleviate the economic pressure faced by clubs. There have also been efforts to support athletes directly (e.g. FIG and ITF). All in all, the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on sport have been unprecedented and will require creative solutions while continuing to place public health as the top priority.

Platini’s ECtHR Appeal Falls Flat

There have also been a few other stories that have (understandably) been overshadowed by the pandemic. One of these include Michel Platini’s unsuccessful appeal to the ECtHR challenging his 2015 football ban. The ECtHR’s decision concerned the admissibility of his appeal and in the end found it to be ‘manifestly ill-founded’. This is because he failed to raise his procedural rights concerns under Article 6 (1) ECHR in his proceedings at the Swiss Federal Tribunal. Besides rejecting his other claims based on Article 7 and 8 ECHR, the ECtHR decision also touched upon the issue of CAS’ procedural and institutional independence. In doing so, it referred to its Pechstein decision and once more affirmed that the CAS is sufficiently independent and impartial (see para 65), further giving credence to this notion from its case law. However, there are still concerns on this matter as was highlighted in the Pechstein dissent. Overall, the decision indicates that the ECtHR is willing to give the CAS the benefit of the doubt so long as it sufficiently takes into account the ECHR in its awards.

Mark Dry – UKAD Dispute

In February, Mark Dry was suspended by UKAD after a decision of the National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) Appeal Tribunal  for four years after having given a ‘false account’ in order to ‘subvert the Doping Control process’. Specifically, Dry had told anti-doping authorities that he had been out fishing after he had missed a test at his residence. After further investigation, Dry admitted that he had forgotten to update his whereabouts while he was actually visiting his parents in Scotland and in panic, had told anti-doping authorities that he had been out fishing. Following the decision of the NADP Appeal Tribunal, athlete stakeholders have argued the four-year ban was disproportionate in this case. In particular, Global Athlete contended that Whereabouts Anti-Doping Rule Violations only occur in cases where an athlete misses three tests or filing failures within a year. Furthermore, even if Dry had ‘tampered or attempted to tamper’, a four-year sanction is too harsh. Subsequently, UKAD responded with a statement, arguing that ‘deliberately providing false information’ is ‘a serious breach of the rules’ and that the UKAD NADP Appeal Tribunal ‘operates independently’. In light of the mounting pressure, Witold Bańka, WADA President, also responded on Twitter that he is ‘committed to ensuring that athletes’ rights are upheld under the World Anti-Doping Code’. More...

Anti-Doping in Times of COVID-19: A Difficult Balancing Exercise for WADA - By Marjolaine Viret

Editor's note: Marjolaine is a researcher and attorney admitted to the Geneva bar (Switzerland) who specialises in sports and life sciences.


I.               Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the manner in which we approach human interactions that suppose close and prolonged physical contact. Across the world, authorities are having to design ways to resume essential activities without jeopardising participants’ health, all the while guaranteeing that other fundamental rights are paid due respect. The fight against doping is no exception. Anti-doping organizations – whether public or private – have to be held to the same standards, including respect for physical integrity and privacy, and considerate application of the cornerstone principle of proportionality.

Throughout this global crisis, the World Anti-Doping Agency (‘WADA’) has carefully monitored the situation, providing anti-doping organizations and athletes with updates and advice. On 6 May 2020, WADA issued the document called ‘ADO Guidance for Resuming Testing’ (‘COVID Guidance’). A COVID-19 ‘Q&A’ for athletes (‘Athlete Q&A’) is also available on WADA’s website, and has been last updated on 25 May 2020. This article focuses on these two latest documents, and analyses the solutions proposed therein, and their impact on athletes.

Like many public or private recommendations issued for other societal activities, the WADA COVID Guidance is primarily aimed at conducting doping control while limiting the risk of transmission of the virus and ensuing harm to individuals. More specifically, one can identify two situations of interest for athletes that are notified for testing:

  1. The athlete has or suspects that they may have been infected with COVID-19, or has come in close contact with someone having COVID-19;
  2. The athlete fears to be in touch with doping control personnel that may be infected with COVID-19.

Quite obviously, either situation has the potential to create significant challenges when it comes to balancing the interests of anti-doping, with individual rights and data protection concerns. This article summarises how the latest WADA COVID Guidance and Athlete Q&A address both situations. It explores how the solutions suggested fit in with the WADA regulatory framework and how these might be assessed from a legal perspective.

The focus will be on the hypothesis in which international sports federations – i.e. private entities usually organised as associations or similar structures – are asked to implement the COVID Guidance within their sport. National anti-doping organizations are strongly embedded in their national legal system and their status and obligations as public or semi-public organisations are likely to be much more dependent on the legislative landscape put in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in each country. Nevertheless, the general principles described in this article would apply to all anti-doping organizations alike, whether at international or national level. More...



(A)Political Games: A Critical History of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter - By Thomas Terraz

Editor’s note: Thomas Terraz is a fourth year LL.B. candidate at the International and European Law programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law. Currently he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on International and European Sports Law.

 

Since its inception, the Olympic Movement, and in particular the IOC, has tirelessly endeavored to create a clean bubble around sport events, protecting its hallowed grounds from any perceived impurities. Some of these perceived ‘contaminants’ have eventually been accepted as a necessary part of sport over time (e.g. professionalism in sport),[1] while others are still strictly shunned (e.g. political protest and manifestations) and new ones have gained importance over the years (e.g. protection of intellectual property rights). The IOC has adopted a variety of legal mechanisms and measures to defend this sanitized space.  For instance, the IOC has led massive efforts to protect its and its partners’ intellectual property rights through campaigns against ambush marketing (e.g. ‘clean venues’ and minimizing the athletes’ ability to represent their personal sponsors[2]). Nowadays, the idea of the clean bubble is further reinforced through the colossal security operations created to protect the Olympic sites.

Nevertheless, politics, and in particular political protest, has long been regarded as one of the greatest threats to this sanitized space. More recently, politics has resurfaced in the context of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Rule 50 Guidelines. Although Rule 50 is nothing new, the Guidelines stirred considerable criticism, to which Richard Pound personally responded, arguing that Rule 50 is a rule encouraging ‘mutual respect’ through ‘restraint’ with the aim of using sport ‘to bring people together’.[3] In this regard, the Olympic Charter aims to avoid ‘vengeance, especially misguided vengeance’. These statements seem to endorse a view that one’s expression of their political beliefs at the Games is something that will inherently divide people and damage ‘mutual respect’. Thus, the question naturally arises: can the world only get along if ‘politics, religion, race and sexual orientation are set aside’?[4] Should one’s politics, personal belief and identity be considered so unholy that they must be left at the doorstep of the Games in the name of depoliticization and of the protection of the Games’ sanitized bubble? Moreover, is it even possible to separate politics and sport?  

Even Richard Pound would likely agree that politics and sport are at least to a certain degree bound to be intermingled.[5] However, numerous commentators have gone further and expressed their skepticism to the view that athletes should be limited in their freedom of expression during the Games (see here, here and here). Overall, the arguments made by these commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy that while the Games are bathed in politics, athletes – though without their labor there would be no Games – are severely restrained in expressing their own political beliefs. Additionally, they often bring attention to how some of the most iconic moments in the Games history are those where athletes took a stand on a political issue, often stirring significant controversy at the time. Nevertheless, what has not been fully explored is the relationship between the Olympic Games and politics in terms of the divide between the ideals of international unity enshrined in the Olympic Charter and on the other hand the de facto embrace of country versus country competition in the Olympic Games. While the Olympic Charter frames the Games as ‘competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries’, the reality is far from this ideal.[6] Sport nationalism in this context can be considered as a form of politics because a country’s opportunity to host and perform well at the Games is frequently used to validate its global prowess and stature.

To explore this issue, this first blog will first take a historical approach by investigating the origins of political neutrality in sport followed by an examination of the clash between the ideal of political neutrality and the reality that politics permeate many facets of the Olympic Games. It will be argued that overall there has been a failure to separate politics and the Games but that this failure was inevitable and should not be automatically viewed negatively. The second blog will then dive into the Olympic Charter’s legal mechanisms that attempt to enforce political neutrality and minimize sport nationalism, which also is a form of politics. It will attempt to compare and contrast the IOC’s approach to political expression when exercised by the athletes with its treatment of widespread sport nationalism.More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February 2020 - By Thomas Terraz

Editor's note: This report compiles the most relevant legal news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. 

 

The Headlines

Manchester City sanctioned by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play

Manchester City has been sanctioned under UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations for two seasons for ‘overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information’ it had provided UEFA. The February 14 decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) likely heralds the start of a long and bitter legal war between Manchester City and UEFA, which may end up settling many of the questions surrounding the legality of FFP rules. Since its introduction in 2010, the compatibility of FFP with EU law, especially in terms of free movement and competition law, has been a continued point of contention amongst the parties concerned and commentators (see discussion here, here and here). It was only a matter of time that a case would arise to test this issue and the present circumstances seem to indicate that this may go all the way.                                 

Regardless, the ban will not be enforced this season and in light of the appeal process, it is hard to predict when the CFCB’s decision will have any effect. Indeed, Manchester City has shown an incredible willingness to fighting this out in the courts and shows no signs of backing down. The next stop will be the CAS and perhaps followed by the Swiss Federal Tribunal. It should also be recalled that the CAS has already examined FFP in its Galatasaray award, where it found FFP compatible with EU law (see commentary here). There is even a decent chance that this emerging saga may end up in front of the European Commission and eventually the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Sun Yang CAS award published

After a much-anticipated public hearing, the Panel’s award in the Sun Yang case has finally been published, sanctioning Sun Yang with an eight-year period of ineligibility (see here for a detailed commentary). The decision does not reveal anything groundbreaking in terms of its legal reasoning and in many ways the case will most likely be remembered for its historical significance: the case that jumpstarted a new era of increased public hearings at the CAS.

Perhaps of some interest is the extent to which the panel took into account Sun Yang’s behavior during the proceedings in order to support its assessment of the case. For example, the panel describes how Sun Yang had ignored the procedural rules of the hearing by inviting ‘an unknown and unannounced person from the public gallery to join him at his table and act as an impromptu interpreter’. The Panel interpreted this as Sun Yang attempting ‘to take matters into his own hands’ which it found resembled the athlete’s behavior in the case (see para 358). The Panel also found it ‘striking’ that Sun Yang did not express any remorse concerning his actions during the proceedings. Since the proceedings were held publicly and have been recorded, it is possible to verify the Panel’s assessment in this regard.

In the end, it is possible that Sun Yang may seek to reduce the period of ineligibility once the 2021 WADA Code comes into force (see para 368). For now, Sung Yang may also try to appeal the award to the Swiss Federal Tribunal on procedural grounds, and has already indicated his wish to do so. More...

Mega-sporting events and human rights: What role can EU sports diplomacy play? - Conference Report – By Thomas Terraz

Editor’s note: Thomas Terraz is a fourth year LL.B. candidate at the International and European Law programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law. Currently he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on International and European Sports Law.

 

1.     Introduction

 On March 05, the T.M.C. Asser Institute hosted ‘Mega-sporting events and human rights: What role can EU sports diplomacy play?’ a Multiplier Sporting Event organized in the framework of a European research project on ‘Promoting a Strategic Approach to EU Sports Diplomacy’. This project funded by the European Commission through its Erasmus+ program aims to help the EU adopt a strategic approach to sports diplomacy and to provide evidence of instances where sport can help amplify EU diplomatic messages and forge better relations with third countries. In particular, Antoine Duval from the Asser Institute is focusing on the role of EU sports diplomacy to strengthen human rights in the context of mega sporting events (MSE) both in Europe and abroad. To this end, he organized the two panels of the day focusing, on the one hand, on the ability of sport governing bodies (SGB) to leverage their diplomatic power to promote human rights, particularly in the context of MSEs and, on the other, on the EU’s role and capacity to strengthened human rights around MSEs. The following report summarizes the main points raised during the discussions. More...

Special Issue Call for Papers: Legal Aspects of Fantasy Sports - International Sports Law Journal

The International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) invites submissions to a special issue focusing on legal aspects of fantasy sports. For some time, fantasy sports has been a major phenomena in North America and this has been reflected in the sports law literature. Fantasy sports have more recently grown in popularity in the rest of world, raising a number of novel legal questions. The ISLJ wants to support fruitful global discussions about these questions through a special issue. We welcome contributions from different jurisdictions analyzing fantasy sports from the perspective of various areas of law including, but not limited to, intellectual property law, gambling law, and competition law.

Please submit proposed papers through the ISLJ submission system (http://islj.edmgr.com/) no later than November 15, 2020. Submissions should have a reccomended length of 8,000–12,000 words and be prepared in accordance with the ISLJ's house style guidelines (https://www.springer.com/journal/40318/submission-guidelines). All submissions will be subject to double-blind peer review.

Question about the special issue can be directed to the Editor–in-Chief, Johan Lindholm (johan.lindholm@umu.se).

Free Event! Mega-sporting events and human rights: What role can EU sports diplomacy play? - 5 March at the Asser Institute in The Hague

The upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and its links to human rights violations has been the subject of many debates in the media and beyond. In particular, the respect of migrant workers’ labour rights was at the forefront of much public criticisms directed against FIFA. Similarly, past Olympics in Rio, Sochi or Beijing have also been in the limelight for various human rights issues, such as the lack of freedom of the press, systematic discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or forced evictions. These controversies have led sports governing bodies (SGBs) to slowly embrace human rights as an integral part of their core values and policies. Leading to an increased expectation for SGBs to put their (private) diplomatic capital at the service of human rights by using their leverage vis-à-vis host countries of their mega-sporting events (MSEs). In turn, this also raises the question of the need for the EU to accompany this change by putting human rights at the heart of its own sports diplomacy.


Research collective 
This Multiplier Sporting Event, organised in the framework of the transnational project on ‘Promoting a Strategic Approach to EU Sports Diplomacy’ funded by the Erasmus + Programme, aims to trigger discussions on the role of an EU sports diplomacy in strengthening respect for human rights in the context of MSEs both at home and abroad. It will feature two roundtables focused on the one hand on the diplomatic power and capacity of SGBs to fend for human rights during MSEs and on the other on the EU’s integration of human rights considerations linked to MSEs in its own sports diplomacy.


Programme

13:20 – 14:00 – Welcome and opening speech –Antoine Duval (Asser Institute)
14:00 - 15:30 - Panel 1: Leveraging the Diplomatic Power of the Sports Governing Bodies for Human Rights

  • Lucy Amis (Unicef UK/Institute for Human Rights and Business)
  • Guido Battaglia (Centre for Sport and Human Rights)
  • Florian Kirschner (World Players Association/UNI Global Union)
  • Claire Jenkin (University of Hertfordshire)

15:30 – 16:00 - Coffee Break

16:00 - 17:30 - Panel 2: A Human Rights Dimension for the EU’s Sports Diplomacy?

  • Arnout Geeraert (Utrecht University)
  • Agata Dziarnowska (European Commission)
  • Alexandre Mestre (Sport and Citizenship)
  • Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (TBC)

17:30 - Reception

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Right to Privacy 1:0 Whereabouts Requirement - A Case Note on a Recent Decision by the Spanish Audiencia Nacional

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

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.                                                                          


I.              The Facts

In 2013, the Spanish High Council for Sports (Consejo Superior de Deportes) adopted resolution 1648/2013 providing two forms (Annex I and Annex II) for athletes to complete in order to fulfil their whereabouts requirements, in the view of implementing the existing Spanish laws against doping.[1]

The key legal provisions underlying this resolution read as follows (translation ASSER[2]):

Article  5 of Ley Orgánica 7/2006, de 21 de noviembre, de protección de la salud y de lucha contra el dopaje en el deporte.

3. In the view of conducting the controls referred to in the first paragraph with the greatest efficiency possible, the athletes, the teams, trainers (coaches) and managers should facilitate, in accordance with the established regulations, the gathering of the data necessary for the localisation of the habitual whereabouts of the athletes, in a way that permits to carry out the doping tests. 

Article 43 of 641/2009 Real Decreto 641/2009, de 17 de abril, por el que se regulan los procesos de control de dopaje y los laboratorios de análisis autorizados, y por el que se establecen medidas complementarias de prevención del dopaje y de protección de la salud en el deporte.

1. The athletes with a licence enabling them to participate in official competition on national level should, in accordance with the following paragraphs, facilitate the transmission of the data that permit the localisation of the habitual whereabouts of the athletes through completion of the specific form established by Resolution of el Presidente del Consejo Superior de Deportes.

3. The athletes subjected to the Individualized Plan have a specific duty to complete the form established by Resolution of el Presidente del Consejo Superior de Deportes.

Article 45 of 641/2009 Real Decreto

1. The athletes subjected to the Individualized Plan have to provide trimestral information on their habitual whereabouts, to this end they should complete the form approved by Resolution of el Presidente del Consejo Superior de Deportes, including in any case the following minimum information:

a) A postal address where the athlete can receive correspondence for notification purposes related to doping tests.

b) A clause signed by the athlete, by which he agrees to communicate the data provided to other anti-doping organizations, pursuant to article 36 de la Ley Orgánica 7/2006.

c) For each trimester, in case of an absence longer than 3 days from the habitual residence, the athlete must provide the full address of his residence or whereabouts.

d) The details, including the name and address, of the training locations of the athlete, as well as his training calendar for the trimester, and the minimum schedule of availability necessary for conducting the doping controls.

e) The trimestral competition calendar, specifying the locations, dates and types of competitions in which he is due to compete.

Spanish athletes are thus divided into two categories: those subjected to an individualized plan under article 45 of the Real decreto and those not subjected to an individualized plan. Accordingly, the Council’s resolution provides two types of obligatory forms, one for athletes not included in the individualized plan covering only the usual place(s) of training (Annex I) and one for athletes included in the individualized plan covering the usual place(s) of training but also the unusual places of training (Annex II). Those forms must be completed and communicated to the national anti-doping agency before the beginning of each trimester.

It is the legality of this resolution, which was challenged by the Spanish Association of Professional Cyclists in front of the Audiencia Nacional , that lead to the ruling adopted 24 June 2014.  


II.            The Ruling

As a preamble, the judges recognized that “the efficiency of the fight against doping would be seriously impeded if no adequate mechanism existed to monitor effectively the whereabouts obligation of the athletes”. However, the Court also considered that both legal texts refer to the habitual localization of the athlete in order to enable the testing”. Annex I does not go beyond what is necessary to assert this usual localization. Annex II, reserved for athletes subjected to an individualized plan, however, “besides indicating the location of the habitual training whereabouts, also include the request to provide information that should facilitate the ‘occasional localization’… which means that the athletes subject to this annex are (also) subject to a permanent localization obligation”.

The judges considered that this “permanent localization duty” is “submitting the athlete to a permanent control during all the days and hours of the year, thereby exceeding what can be considered “habitual or frequent”. The measure is disproportionate and contrary to the right to privacy, and is not mandated by law, even when considering the special duties that an athlete bears as holder of a sporting licence. It is especially so when subjected to a differentiated plan, since it could be analogized to a measure of penal character requiring a permanent localization that can only be imposed as a consequence of a criminal offence. Therefore, such a permanent localization duty entails an interference that is contrary to the essence of the right to privacy”. 

Thus, the Court considered that the resolution was contrary to the right to privacy and was going beyond the wording enshrined in article 5.3 of the Ley Orgánica. Hence, it is to be considered null and void and a new resolution needs to be devised.


III.           Whereabouts Requirements in the World Anti-Doping Code

So, is this just a Spanish case, relevant only to the national context, or does it reveal a wider problem with the whereabouts requirements imposed by the World anti-doping Code?

Surely, this is first and foremost a national case. However, the laws at stake were all adopted to transpose the World Anti-Doping Code at the national level and to conform to the UNESCO Convention on Doping.[3] Consequently, grasping the scope of the requirements imposed in this regard by the WADA Code is crucial to assessing the potential wider impact of this decision.  


Article 2.4 of the WADA Code 2009 foresees that the following constitutes an anti-doping rule violation:

2.4 Violation of applicable requirements regarding Athlete availability for Out-of-Competition Testing, including failure to file required whereabouts information and missed tests which are declared based on rules which comply with the International Standard for Testing. Any combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures within an eighteen-month period as determined by Anti-Doping Organizations with jurisdiction over the Athlete shall constitute an anti-doping rule violation.  

To this end article 5.1.1 of the WADA Code 2009 provides that each Anti-Doping Organization shall:

5.1.1 Plan and conduct an effective number of In- Competition and Out-of-Competition tests on Athletes over whom they have jurisdiction, including but not limited to Athletes in their respective Registered Testing Pools. Each International Federation shall establish a Registered Testing Pool for International-Level Athletes in its sport, and each National Anti- Doping Organization shall establish a national Registered Testing Pool for Athletes who are present in that National Anti-Doping Organization’s country or who are nationals, residents, license-holders or members of sport organizations of that country. In accordance with Article 14.3, any Athlete included in a Registered Testing Pool shall be subject to the whereabouts requirements set out in the International Standard for Testing.

Finally article 14.3. of the WADA Code 2009 indicates that:

14.3 Athlete Whereabouts Information

As further provided in the International Standard for Testing, Athletes who have been identified by their International Federation or National Anti-Doping Organization for inclusion in a Registered Testing Pool shall provide accurate, current location information. The International Federations and National Anti- Doping Organizations shall coordinate the identification of Athletes and the collecting of current location information and shall submit these to WADA. This information will be accessible, through ADAMS where reasonably feasible, to other Anti-Doping Organizations having jurisdiction to test the Athlete as provided in Article 15. This information shall be maintained in strict confidence at all times; shall be used exclusively for purposes of planning, coordinating or conducting Testing; and shall be destroyed after it is no longer relevant for these purposes. 

These whereabouts requirements are further fleshed out in the International Standard for Testing 2012. Article 11.3 of the Standard deals with the Whereabouts Filing Requirements and foresees that: 

11.3.1 On a date specified by the Responsible ADO that is prior to the first day of each quarter (i.e. 1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October, respectively), an Athlete in a Registered Testing Pool must file a Whereabouts Filing with his/her IF (if the Athlete has been included in its international Registered Testing Pool) or his/her NADO (if the Athlete has been included in its national Registered Testing Pool) that contains at least the following information:

a. complete mailing address where correspondence may be sent to the Athlete for formal notice purposes. Any notice or other item mailed to that address will be deemed to have been received by the Athlete five working days after it was deposited in the mail;

[…]

d. for each day during the following quarter, the full address of the place
where the Athlete will be residing (e.g. home, temporary lodgings, hotel, etc);

e. for each day during the following quarter, the name and address of each location where the Athlete will train, work or conduct any other regular
activity (e.g. school), as well as the usual time-frames for such regular activities; and

f. the Athlete’s competition schedule for the following quarter, including the name and address of each location where the Athlete is scheduled to compete during the quarter and the date(s) on which he/she is scheduled to compete at such location(s).

11.3.2 The Whereabouts Filing must also include, for each day during the following quarter, one specific 60-minute time slot between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. each day where the Athlete will be available and accessible for Testing at a specific location. 

The question whether a specific type of information is to be included in the Whereabouts Filing is key to the Spanish ruling. The WADA Standard mentions only the “the name and address of each location where the Athlete will train, work or conduct any other regular activity (e.g. school), as well as the usual time-frames for such regular activities”. This is further broken down in the comment to article 11.3.1(e) of the Standard, where it is specified that “[T]his requirement applies only to regular activities, i.e. activities that are part of the Athlete’s regular routine. Furthermore, the WADA Guidelines for implementing an effective athlete whereabouts program provide at article 3.5 (p.19) that “an activity is only ‘regular’ if it is done as part of a standard schedule/in accordance with a routine pattern or practice”.

One can deduce from the above review of the WADA provisions that the Spanish system was even going beyond what WADA requires in terms of information to be communicated in the framework of the whereabouts requirements. Accordingly, the Court considered that the incriminated Annex II goes beyond what is necessary to fulfil the objective of the anti-doping fight, if the global anti-doping watchdog is not confident that such information is needed. It would be a stretch, therefore, to interpret this judgment as an immediate threat for the WADA Code. Its wording seems rather to be in line with the Code’s own provisions.  


IV.          The Controversy Over Whereabouts Requirements

Anyhow, this case fuels the on-going controversy over the conciliation of whereabouts requirements with the right to privacy of athletes. The Court’s view that submitting an athlete to a permanent control of his whereabouts is contrary to her right to privacy might speak against a requirement to provide “for each day during the following quarter, the full address of the place where the Athlete will be residing (e.g. home, temporary lodgings, hotel, etc)” or “for each day during the following quarter, the name and address of each location where the Athlete will train, work or conduct any other regular
activity (e.g. school)”. The proportionality of such, little less intruding, requirements could be put to the test as well. In fact, in its second opinion on the WADA Code, Article 29 Data Protection working party of the EU, specified that “the information to be provided concerning the whereabouts and the time slots for controls should be clearly determined by taking into account the requirements of the principles of necessity and proportionality with respect to the purposes of out of competition testing, and avoiding the collection of information that might lead to undue interference in athletes’ private lives or reveal sensitive data on athletes and/or third parties”. In this regard, it “considers it to be proportionate to require personal data regards to the specific 60-minute time slot and to require filling in the name and address of each location where the athlete will train, work or conduct any other regular activity”. But, it called onto WADA to “reconsider requesting that the residence on each day of the following quarter (even temporary lodging) should be filled in (article 11.3.1 under d. of the International Standard for Testing) as this would appear to be questionable”.[4]

This controversy also has a philosophical flavor as scores of legal and social science scholars have been discussing the issue over the years. Some laments the “lack of concern given to athletes’ privacy”[5], the fact that “athletes are now just as likely to be punished for taking prohibited substances as they are for being bad at paperwork”[6], or “a State of Exception”[7] for elite athletes. Leading them to wonder: “[W]ith respect to the ‘whereabouts’ policy we must ask whether human rights are genuinely violated?”[8]

Undeniably, WADA’s Athlete Committee is supporting staunchly the whereabouts requirements[9], but its members do not represent in any democratic, nor legitimate, way the affected athlete population. However, in the face of the impossible task of enforcing a harmonized global surveillance of the implementation of the whereabouts requirements[10], recent social-science surveys have shown that athletes doubt the necessity, proportionality and efficacy of such controls.[11]

The case at hand is a great opportunity to reflect on the foucauldian turn of the anti-doping fight. In practice it is looking more and more like a panopticon, devised to optimize the surveillance of athletes, while irremediably failing to do so.[12] In turn, each new failure triggers calls for a reinforcement of the surveillance’s means and scope, thus, overlooking the deeper socio-economic roots of doping. In this context, the judgement of the Spanish High Court is reaffirming a healthy, and reasonable, limit to a potential disciplinary overreach. An overreach, which, in many eyes, raises a more fundamental question: “is it worth the cost?”[13]



[1] Especially the Ley Orgánica 7/2006, de 21 de noviembre, de protección de la salud y de lucha contra el dopaje en el deporte and the Real Decreto 641/2009, de 17 de abril, por el que se regulan los procesos de control de dopaje

[2] I thank Oskar Van Maren for his translating skills.

[3] Here one should look specifically at the preamble of the Ley Organica 7/2006 and of Real Decreto 641/2009, 1462/2009 and 1744/2011

[4] This provision is still included in the new 2015 version of the International Standard for testing and investigations at I.3.1.(d), p.88

[5] Sarah Teetzel (2007) Respecting privacy in detecting illegitimate enhancements in athletes, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 1:2, 159-170

[6] Niall Trainor, The 2009 WADA Code : A more proportionate deal for athletes ?, Entertainment and Sports law journal, June 2010, §65

[7] Lev Kreft (2009) The Elite Athlete – In a State of Exception?, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 3:1, 3-18

[8] Lev Kreft (2009) The Elite Athlete – In a State of Exception?, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 3:1, 3-18 p.12

[9] One example amongst many WADA Athlete Committee Meeting April 3–4, 2008, p.2

[10] See the Report to WADA Executive Committee on Lack of effectiveness of Testing Programs, 18 may 2012; Dag Vidar Hanstad , Eivind Å. Skille & Sigmund Loland (2010) Harmonization of anti-doping work: myth or reality?, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, 13:3, 418-430; Dikic N, Samardzic Markovic S, Mc Namee M, On the efficacy of WADA’s Whereabouts policy: between filing failures and missed tests Deutsche Zeitschrift für Sportmedizin ‘Jahrgang 62, nr. 10 (2011), 324-328

[11] Dag Vidar Hanstad , Eivind Å. Skille & Sigmund Loland (2010) Harmonization of anti-doping work: myth or reality?, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, 13:3, 418-430, p.420; Diane Valkenburga, Olivier de Honb, Ivo van Hilvoordea, Doping control, providing whereabouts and the importance of privacy for elite athletes’, International Journal of Drug Policy xxx (2014) xxx–xxx

[12] This logic of surveillance is highlighted by  I. Waddington (2010), Surveillance and control in sport: A sociologist looks at the WADA whereabouts system. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics 2: 255–74. And Hanstad, D.V., and S. Loland. ‘Elite Level Athletes’ Duty to Provide Information on their Whereabouts: Justifiable Anti-doping Work or an Indefensible Surveillance Regime?’ European Journal for Sport Sciences 9 (2009): 3–10.

[13] I. Waddington (2010), Surveillance and control in sport: A sociologist looks at the WADA whereabouts system. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics 2: 255–74

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