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

Why we should stop focusing on Caster Semenya 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.

Over the past days, we have been flooded by media reports discussing the “Caster Semenya-case”, reports rapidly relayed in social networks. Since the debate has a distinct legal component and since almost every report appears to draw significantly from the legal background, I granted myself permission – as compensation so to speak - to publish a somewhat more personal, less legal, post than I usually would.

Let me make one thing clear from the outset – I am still ‘agnostic’ about the question of how to solve the issues surrounding the male versus female divide in sports. Each time I have been asked to write or speak on the subject, I have tried to stick to describing the legal situation and its implications. I do not have the miracle solution as to how to handle this infinitely complex issue. And I am not sure anyone can claim to hold that solution at this point. Like everyone, I am doing my research and trying to be humble enough to stay within the realm of my competences. More...




Sporting nationality and the Olympic Games: selected issues by Yann Hafner (University of Neuchâtel)

Editor’s note: Yann Hafner is a Phd researcher at the University of Neuchâtel specialized in sports and nationality issues. He is also Legal Affairs Manager at the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball. Yann is an editor of the ASSER International Sports Law Blog and has previously published on the blog on nationality conundrums at the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil (see here).  

This contribution aims to decipher the relationship between sporting nationality and the Olympic Games. To this end, the author will first define sporting nationality and discuss athletes’ eligibility in national team in the context of the Olympic Games. Then, selected issues in relation with sporting nationality and the Olympic Games (with an emphasis on issues related to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games) will be investigated. More...



Regulating the human body in sports: Lessons learned from the Dutee Chand case - by Dr Marjolaine Viret & Emily Wisnosky

Editor's note: Marjolaine Viret and Emily Wisnosky are both editors of the ASSER International Sports Law Blog specialized in anti-doping matters, they are also involved in the World Anti-Doping Commentary project funded by the Swiss National Science Fund.

Introduction

A remarkable aspect of the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games was the stream of negative media reports portraying broad-scale public mistrust in sport, with the most prominent topic being the doping scandals in athletics and questions surrounding the participation of Russia.  

A different controversy, but one also directed at the credibility of sports, has exposed a few female Olympians to repeated, and at times rather intrusive, media scrutiny. In June 2016, it was reported that Indian track-and-field athlete Dutee Chand had qualified for the Rio Olympic Games by breaking the national record, thus to become the first Indian athlete to run the 100m at the Olympics since 1980. The attention that Dutee Chand’s qualification attracted within international media, however, was not related only to her outstanding results. It came as part of a medical, ethical and legal controversy that has existed for many years relating to ‘policing’ the male versus female divide in sports. Another athlete who has found herself in the midst of this controversy is South African runner Semenya Caster, whose participation in the Olympics has been the object of much conjecture.

The divide between male and female athletes forms the core of most sports’ competition rules, including athletics. The justification for this basic divide has rarely been questioned as such, but has been a matter for debate when it comes to handling atypical situations on both sides of the ‘dividing line’ ­ such as ‘transgender’ or ‘intersex’ athletes. A category of athletes that has, especially, been viewed as a challenge to the divide is composed of female athletes affected by ‘hyperandrogenism’, a health condition that results in naturally elevated androgen levels, including testosterone levels.

On 24 July 2015, a CAS panel rendered a decision involving Dutee Chand (“Dutee Chand” or “the Athlete”) that has fuelled the ongoing debate about the policies regulating hyperandrogenism in sport. Much has been reported in the media about the case: controversial issues include whether the CAS was the appropriate forum to assess these questions; whether the decision was appropriate, both on the merits and on the procedure; and what the consequences of the CAS award would be, for the parties, for athletics and for the sporting community at large.

Much like the current crisis surrounding doping in sports, the public attention on women with (proven or suspected) hyperandrogenism is driven by a concern that an athlete’s physiology – natural or artificially induced ­ could distort competition, destroying the ‘level playing field’ that supports the Olympic ideal. Both topics are also often brought back to the goal of protecting an athlete’s health. Parallels are further found in the strong reactions both topics evoke, and the steps taken by the regulating authorities to convince the public that everything in their power is being done to preserve a level playing field.

A less obvious but equally important point of comparison can be found in the issues both topics raise concerning the legal validity of decisions made by sports organizations, especially in a science-related context. This blog focuses on those more ‘legal’ aspects, through the prism of the decision of the CAS in the Dutee Chand matter and its legal implications. After touching briefly on the background of the case, we will comment on two aspects of the Chand award with respect to challenges in regulating hyperandrogenism in sport within the confines of the law: First from the viewpoint of a CAS panel called upon to evaluate the validity of a set of regulations, and second from the viewpoint of the sports organizations seeking to both adequately protect fairness in sport and to provide a legally valid (and effective) regulatory solution.[1]

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International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – July 2016 - By Marine Montejo

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 have overlooked. 

The Headlines

The McLaren Report on Russia’s State Doping System

It is difficult not to start this monthly report without referring to the never-ending Russian doping investigation that is shaking the sporting world. On 18 July, the independent investigation on Sochi 2014 winter Olympics led by Prof. McLaren, a Canadian law professor, and requested by the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”), released its report. It confirmed evidence of widespread, State-sponsored doping in Russian sports and called for a full ban on the country from the next Rio Olympics. In response to the report, the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) vowed to take the “toughest sanctions available”. However, and despite the race against time in the run-up to Rio 2016, the IOC delayed its decision for several days amid a WADA statement and several press articles calling for a ban of Russia from Rio Olympics. Meanwhile, it did open an investigation against Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, the head official who allegedly supervised the overall doping cover up and explored all possible legal actions against Russia. On 21 July, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) rejected the appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes against the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) decisions to suspend All Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) from IAAF membership given the evidence of a state-sponsored doping system. As a consequence, Russian track and field athletes were also banned from Rio 2016 Olympics. With the IAAF welcoming this decision, one could think that nothing was standing in the way of a full Olympic ban for all Russian athletes. While some Russian athletes announced that they would appeal the CAS award to the Swiss Federal Court. Yelena Isinbayeva, the banned pole vault champion, even took it a step further by claiming that she would challenge the IAAF decision as far as the European Court of Human Rights. Yet, it is very improbable that any of these challenges be decided in time for the Rio Games.More...

Brexit and EU law: Beyond the Premier League (Part 2). 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. 


Part 2. EU competition law and sports funding

The first analysed impact of Brexit on sport was the one regarding EU internal market rules and free movement. However, all sport areas that are of interest to the European Union will be impacted by the result of the future Brexit negotiations. This second part of the blog will focus on EU competition law and the media sector as well as direct funding opportunities keeping in mind that if the UK reaches for an EEA type agreement competition law and state aid rules will remain applicable as much as the funding programs.  More...


With or without them? Russia’s state doping system and the Olympic fate of Russian athletes. By Antoine Duval, Kester Mekenkamp and Oskar van Maren

On Monday 18 July 2016, Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren presented the Independent Person Report to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), regarding the alleged Russian doping program surrounding the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The report was expected to seriously threaten the participation of Russian Athletes to the rapidly approaching Rio Games, starting on 5 August. In the weekend prior to the report’s publishing, Reuters obtained a leaked letter drafted by the CEO’s of the US and Canadian anti-doping agencies, which according to the New York Times was backed by “antidoping officials from at least 10 nations— including those in the United States, Germany, Spain, Japan, Switzerland and Canada — and 20 athlete groups”, urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban all Russian athletes from the upcoming Olympics.

Source: http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/50/23/01/10563667/3/920x920.jpg

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Brexit and EU law: Beyond the Premier League (Part 1). 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.

The result of the Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016 took the European Union (almost) by surprise. A lot has been said and written about the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the EU. As in all other areas, the British sport sector will also face the effects of the modification of the relationship between the EU and its (probable) former Member State, the UK. It is nearly impossible to foresee all consequences as the UK has not even triggered article 50 TFEU yet to officially start the exit negotiations. However, as the UK position toward the EU will change in any case, this two-part blog aims to examine the main practical implications of such an exit for the UK, but also for the EU, in relation to the actual application of EU law in sport and the EU sport policy.

Unless stated otherwise, the use of the terms Brexit in this blog should be understood as a complete exit of the UK from the European Union. This blog focus in particular on this worst case scenario and its consequences for UK sport. However, it is highly improbable that the future Brexit negotiations with the EU will end up without some kind of special agreement between the two parties the first of which being an EEA type of agreement with full access to the internal market and applicability of EU law. 

The first part of this blog will examined the consequences for UK sport in terms of access to the EU internal market and the applicability of free movement principles. The second part is focused on specific impacts with regard of others domain of EU law for professional and grassroots UK sport.  More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – June 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

What a month June turned out to be. Waking up the morning after the 23rd, the results of the UK referendum on EU membership were final. The words of Mark Twain: “Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today”, might provide the most apt description of the mood felt at the time.[1] The Leave campaign’s narrow victory has brought along tremendous economic, political and legal uncertainties for both the UK and the (other) Member States. To give but one example, with regard to the implications of Brexit on Europe’s most profiting football league, we recommend an older blog by Daniel Geey and Jonny Madill. More...


The EU State aid and sport saga: The Showdown

It’s been a long wait, but they’re finally here! On Monday, the European Commission released its decisions regarding State aid to seven Spanish professional football clubs (Real Madrid on two occasions) and five Dutch professional football clubs. The decisions mark the end of the formal investigations, which were opened in 2013. The Commission decided as follows: no State aid to PSV Eindhoven (1); compatible aid to the Dutch clubs FC Den Bosch, MVV Maastricht, NEC Nijmegen and Willem II (2); and incompatible aid granted to the Spanish football clubs Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Valencia CF, Athletic Bilbao, Atlético Osasuna, Elche and Hércules (3). 

The recovery decisions in particular are truly historic. The rules on State aid have existed since the foundation of the European Economic Community in 1958, but it is the very first time that professional football clubs have been ordered to repay aid received from (local) public authorities.[1] In a way, these decisions complete a development set in motion with the Walrave and Koch ruling of 1974, where the CJEU held that professional sporting activity, and therefore also football, is subject to EU law. The landmark Bosman case of 1995 proved to be of great significance as regards free movement of (professional) athletes and the Meca-Medina case of 2006 settled that EU competition rules were equally applicable to the regulatory activity of sport. The fact that the first ever State aid recovery decision concerns major clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Valencia, give the decisions extra bite. Therefore, this blog post will focus primarily on the negative/recovery decisions[2], their consequences and the legal remedies available to the parties involved.[3] More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – May 2016. By Marine Montejo

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

Challenged membership put a lot of emphasis on football federations in May. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) has rendered an award, on 27 April 2016, ordering the FIFA Council to submit the application of the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) for FIFA membership to the FIFA Congress (the body authorised to admit new members to FIFA). The GFA has sought since 1999 to become a member of UEFA and FIFA. In May 2013, it became a member of the UEFA and went on to seek membership of FIFA. More...


Asser International Sports Law Blog | The aftermath of the Pechstein ruling: Can the Swiss Federal Tribunal save CAS arbitration? By Thalia Diathesopoulou

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

The aftermath of the Pechstein ruling: Can the Swiss Federal Tribunal save CAS arbitration? By Thalia Diathesopoulou

It took only days for the de facto immunity of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) awards from State court interference to collapse like a house of cards on the grounds of the public policy exception mandated under Article V(2)(b) of the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards . On 15 January 2015, the Munich Court of Appeals signalled an unprecedented turn in the longstanding legal dispute between the German speed skater, Claudia Pechstein, and the International Skating Union (ISU). It refused to recognise a CAS arbitral award, confirming the validity of a doping ban, on the grounds that it violated a core principle of German cartel law which forms part of the German public policy. A few weeks before, namely on 30 December 2014, the Court of Appeal of Bremen held a CAS award, which ordered the German Club, SV Wilhelmshaven, to pay ‘training compensation’, unenforceable for non-compliance with mandatory European Union law and, thereby, for violation of German ordre public.

Although none of these decisions is yet final, with two red cards in a row, one could presume that the ‘death’ of CAS is closer than ever. Beyond such extreme and rather unconvincing predictions, the two cases set a fundamental precedent: sports arbitration, like all arbitration proceedings, shall abide by minimum standards of institutional impartiality and independence (Pechstein) and apply mandatory EU law (SV Wilhelmshaven).[1] Nevertheless and without prejudice to the need for a potential institutional reform of the CAS (see our analysis here), from a purely international arbitration point of view, the two German courts’ decisions brought into surface the controversial question of the powers of national courts in enforcement proceedings to review CAS arbitral awards with regard to the application of mandatory rules. The Pechstein case illustrates well the potential conflict between two apparently competing policies: the finality of CAS awards and the respect of public policy. In the SV Wilhelmshaven case, the Court went even a step further by implying that sport associations have the ‘duty’ (!) to review a CAS award with regard to its compatibility with German public policy.[2] In view of its uniqueness and complexity, this aspect of the SV Wilhelmshaven case deserves a thorough examination in a future blogpost.

In this blogpost, we will argue that the Pechstein case could be considered as a borderline case with regard to the limits of national courts’ power when scrutinizing CAS awards’ compatibility with domestic public policy. Challenging the validity of CAS awards before national courts, however, is something new under the sun of sports arbitration and could prove fatal for the finality of CAS awards, which is a sine qua non safeguard of procedural equal treatment among athletes[3] and legal coherence in sports law. Should athletes rely on national courts to police the institutional flaws of the CAS? Or is it high time for the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) to abandon the hands-off deferential approach towards CAS arbitration and adopt a broader scope of review in the sporting context?

In this regard, the key claim is the following: national courts’ decisions should not threaten CAS arbitration as long as the Swiss Federal Tribunal review guarantees a minimum quality of CAS arbitrators’ work on the merits.


The Pechstein case: Testing the limits of a national court’s power to review a CAS award

In the latest decision of the Pechstein saga, the Higher Regional Court in Munich found the underlying arbitration agreement between the athlete and ISU in favour of the CAS invalid and that the CAS award issued on the basis of that agreement violated mandatory German cartel law prohibits abusive conduct by companies that have a dominant position on a particular market. The ISU, as sole organizer of speed skating world championship, enjoys a monopolistic position in speed skating and forced the athlete to sign the arbitration agreement at issue. Initially, the Court hold that the arbitration agreement as a prerequisite to the athlete’s participation in competitions does not constitute per se an abuse of a dominant position, since it responds to the specificity of sport and particularly to the need of consistency in sports disputes. However, considering the decisive influence of sports organizations on the selection and appointment of arbitrators under the CAS regulations, the Court concluded that the independence of CAS is questionable. In this light, forcing the athletes to sign an arbitration agreement in favour of a rather dependent and partial tribunal would constitute an abuse of the international sports organizations’ dominant position in the market, thereby infringing the mandatory German antitrust law. More importantly, unlike the First Instance Court, the Higher Regional Court concluded that the res judicata effect of the CAS award does not prevent the athlete from bringing her claim before the Court. Instead, it found  that the recognition of the CAS award would be contrary to Germany’s public policy, since it would perpetuate the abuse of ISU dominant market position.

From a substantive point of view it is evident that the decision primarily concerns the independence of CAS arbitration. However, considering that the Court based its reasoning on the application of German competition law, it could also serve as a model for an abuse of dominant position in the meaning of Article 102 TFEU[4], since the decision provides important insights on the role of a national court in tackling competition law issues at the enforcement stage of an arbitral award. In the Pechstein case, the Court examined the enforcement of a CAS award, which failed to deal with competition law, since the issue was not raised during the arbitral proceedings.[5] Indeed, a competition law issue was never raised before the CAS and neither before the Swiss Federal Tribunal. Interestingly enough, the invalidity of the forced arbitration agreements was raised only in the German courts proceedings.

Given the mandatory nature of competition law, one could argue that if the matter was not raised during the arbitration proceedings by the parties or ex officio by the arbitrators, it could still be considered in enforcement proceedings.[6] However, this approach could hardly be followed in a situation where the applicability of competition law is not prima facie evident and the alleged breach would in no case amount to a hard-core violation of competition law.[7] The answer to this dilemma is to be found in the difficult balance between the public interest in the application and enforcement of competition law on the one hand and the public interest in the finality of CAS arbitral awards on the other. In this light, the following remarks can be made regarding the Pechstein case.

First, it is debatable whether the enforcement of the CAS award results in serious violation of competition law.[8] The Court alleged violation of German cartel law based on the structural imbalance of the CAS and the subsequent challenge of its independence. However, this was rather an examination of the potential effects of the absence of CAS independence which could be hardly interpreted as a hard-core violation of competition law. While the CAS is still “perfectible”[9], the German Court’s decision did not clearly demonstrate to what extent the so-called structural imbalance actually weighted against Pechstein before the CAS. Moreover, one cannot not exclude the possibility that a national court reviewing a CAS awards would be less neutral than the CAS itself as it may have the unconscious intention to safeguard its own athlete.[10] Furthermore, as Nathalia Voser interestigly remarks, the Pechstein ruling failed to provide an assessment of actual excluding and exploitative effects of the forced arbitration clause, in absence of which, it is questionable whether the rules of an arbitral institution could be considered anticompetitive.

Even assuming that the violation of competition law is serious, it is problematic that this issue was raised only in the proceedings before the national courts. The German Court argued that the athlete had no choice but to sign the arbitration agreement and the fact that she never raised a violation of competition law could not justify a perpetuation of the abuse of a dominant position by the ISU.[11] Nevertheless, this argument seems hardly convincing. A refusal of enforcement of an award for failure to apply competition law in the arbitration proceedings, notwithstanding that the party which would have benefited from its application did not raise the issue during the arbitration, could be conceived as an invitation to the parties to behave in bad faith.[12] Had Pechstein won before the CAS, she would not challenge the validity of the arbitration agreement and the Court would not delve into the conformity of the forced arbitration agreement with competition law.

For these reasons, it is the opinion of the author that competition law issues should have been raised in a timely fashion in their proper venue, before the arbitrators. This solution does not entail a danger of systematic violation of competition rules, since the national courts can still protect athletes in case of hard-core violations. On the contrary, treating competition law as a second bite of a cherry for athletes seems to be at odds with the rationale of the public policy exemption and open the road to abusive practices seriously compromising the principle of finality of CAS awards.


The counterbalance? A stricter review of the CAS awards by the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT)

In the wake of the Pechstein ruling, it is almost certain that more athletes will resort to national courts to challenge CAS awards aiming to reverse them in their favour and even claim damages against the sports governing bodies imposing sanctions on the basis of these awards. This can lead to a problematic situation as States adopt different standards of protection of fundamental rights of the athletes and arbitration clauses inserted in statutes of international sports federations can potentially conflict with non-Swiss legal systems.[13] Furthermore, it has been demonstrated in this blogpost that a meticulous review of the application of mandatory rules by national courts poses a serious risk for the effectiveness of arbitration without necessarily guaranteeing much better protection of public policy.

In this light, the concentration of jurisdiction at a single forum is an overriding need in order to ensure that the athletes participating in competitions are on equal footing.[14] Nevertheless, this does not come without limits. In view of the ‘forced’ nature of sports arbitration and the specificity of sports disputes, athletes should enjoy further safeguards for their rights. To this end, the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) should play a key role. By adopting a broader and stricter review of the CAS awards, (namely one that would really take into account the forced nature of sports arbitration) the SFT could at the same time safeguard the enforceability of CAS awards and uniform application of sports law at domestic and international level, while guaranteeing athletes’ fundamental rights.

In fact, a CAS award can be challenged before the SFT on the limited grounds provided in Article 190 (2) PILA and particularly: (a) if the sole arbitrator or the arbitral tribunal was not properly appointed or composed; (b) if the arbitral tribunal erroneously held that it had or did not have jurisdiction; (c) if the arbitral tribunal ruled on matters beyond the claims submitted to it or if it failed to rule on one of the claims; (d) if the equality of the parties or their right to be heard in an adversarial proceeding was not respected; or (e) if the award is incompatible with public policy. The current SFT jurisprudence reviewing CAS awards has demonstrated its capacity to protect parties’ procedural rights.[15] Nonetheless, when it comes to the merits of the dispute, the SFT has consistently adopted a hands-off approach by interpreting the concept of incompatibility with public policy under Article 190 (2)(e) very narrowly, covering only those fundamental principles that are widely recognized and should underlie any system of law according to the prevailing conceptions in Switzerland.[16] For example, in practice, this means that the SFT will not consider whether an award is compatible with EU competition law and EU fundamental principles, irrespective of whether such an award could be enforced within the EU, since they are not embedded in Swiss legal tradition.

It was only in 2012 that the SFT for the first time in over twenty years took the bold step to annul a CAS award on the basis of a violation of substantive public policy.[17] In this judgment, the SFT has answered the criticism that its substantive review under Art 190(2) (e) PILA is a dead letter[18] and more importantly it made it clear that the CAS has the primary responsibility of ensuring that its awards are fair on the merits and the SFT’s role is to examine whether the CAS successfully assumed this duty. However, the Matuzalem ruling instead of marking a turning point in the SFT review on the merits, was soon proven to be a rare exception. The repeated ‘excuse’ of the SFT for this pro-CAS arbitration approach has been that Art 190(2) (e) PILA mandates an excessively limited review on the merits. The CAS arbitration being under the sword of Damocles, should this hands-off approach be sustained?

This question has to be answered negatively. In fact, Chapter 12 of the PILA, including Article 190(2), was originally drafted for the purpose of governing international commercial arbitration. Nevertheless, in its almost 20 years of practice, the SFT has acknowledged that sports arbitration should be treated differently than standard commercial arbitration.[19] It could be argued, therefore, that in view of the particularity of sports arbitration, the restrictive reading of substantive public policy under Art 190 (2)(e) could be tolerated in international commercial arbitration, but not for CAS arbitration. It has been suggested, instead, that in view of protecting athletes’ fundamental rights, the SFT should engage in a broader review and take into account the specificity of sports arbitration in defining the scope of its review on the merits of CAS awards.[20] A suggestion has also been made for a redefinition of public policy under which the SFT could freely review whether CAS has complied with the essential rights of athletes.[21] Considering that athletes are forced to accept CAS arbitration, a broader scope of review that would ensure a minimum quality guarantee of the CAS awards on the merits should be offered to athletes. Therefore, a potential institutional reform of the CAS to ensure independence and impartiality coupled with a more stringent review of its awards by the SFT should bring about a more restraint approach of national courts when reviewing CAS awards’ compliance with domestic public policy and ensure the subsequent finality of CAS awards.


[1] B Hess and F Kaps, ‘Claudia Pechstein and SV Wilhelmshaven: Two German Higher Regional Courts Challenge the Court of Arbitration for Sport’ (6 February 2015).

[2] Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht in Bremen, SV Wilhelmshaven e.V. gegen Norddeutscher Fußball-Verband e.V. (30 Dezember 2014) “i) Der Senat sieht weder sich noch den Beklagten durch die Satzung des Beklagten und die darin in Bezug genommene Satzung des DFB daran gehindert, die Ent-scheidung des Beklagten vom 13.01.2014 unter diesem rechtlichen Aspekt zu prüfen und im Hinblick auf die Unvereinbarkeit der der Vereinsstrafe zugrunde liegenden Festsetzung der Ausbildungsentschädigung mit Art. 45 AEUV die Rechtswidrigkeit des angegriffenen Zwangsabstiegs der ersten Herrenmann-schaft festzustellen. Im Gegenteil war der Beklagte verpflichtet, die „umzuset-zende“ Disziplinarentscheidung und den ihr zugrunde liegenden CAS-Schiedsspruch darauf zu überprüfen, ob diesen nicht zwingendes nationales oder internationales Recht entgegensteht.’’

[3] A Rigozzi, ‘International Sports Arbitration: Why does Swiss Law Matter?’ in Citius, Altius, Fortius-Mélanges en l’ honneur de Denis Oswald (2012), 446.

[4]A Duval, ‘The Pechstein ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München - Time for a new reform of CAS?’ (19 January 2015).

[5] A similar example of this situation is the Eco Swiss v Benetton arbitration, which led to the C-126/97 judgement of the Court of Justice.

[6] L Radicati di Brozolo, ‘Antitrust: a paradigm of the relations between mandatory rules and arbitration-a fresh look at the “second look” ’ (2004) 7 (1) International Arbitration Law Review, 31.

[7] Ibid

[8]  For an interesting analysis on the competition law perspectives of the Pechstein case, see N Voser ‘The Most Recent Decision in the Pechstein Saga: Red Flag for Sports Arbitration?’ (22 January 2015)

[9] Decision 4P.267–270/2002 du 27 mai 2003, Lazutina c. CIO, ATF 129 III 445, Bull. ASA 2003, 465

[10] L Mintas, ‘Dr Laila Mintas: Is this the end of CAS arbitration?’ (3 February 2015)

[11] OLG München · Teil-Urteil vom 15. Januar 2015 · Az. U 1110/14 Kart, paras 135 and 137.

[12] L Radicati di Brozolo (n 5) 32.

[13] J Lukomski, ‘Arbitration clauses in sport governing bodies statutes: consent or constraint? Analysis from the perspective of Article 6(1) of the ECHR’ (2013) 13 The International Sports Law Journal, 69

[14] S Netzle, ‘Jurisdiction of arbitral tribunals in sports matters : arbitration agreements by reference to regulations of sports organisations’ in Arbitration of sports-related disputes (1998,  Basel : Association suisse de l'arbitrage) 47

[15] A Rigozzi, ‘L’importance du droit suisse de l’arbitrage dans la résolution des litiges sportifs internationaux’ (2013) Revue de droit suisse 2013, 320.

[16] Ibid

[17] Swiss Federal Tribunal, Francelino Da Silva Matuzalem v FIFA (27 March 2012) 4A_558/2011

[18] P Landolt, ‘Annulment of Swiss International Arbitration Awards for Incompatibility with Substantive Public Policy: First Annulment in over Twenty Years’ (2012) 27 MEALEY’S International Arbitration Report Issue 4, 22.

[19] Swiss Federal Tribunal, Guillermo Cañas v. ATP Tour (22 March 2007) 4P.172/2006 See also, A Rigozzi (n 13), 321-322.

[20] M Baddeley, ‘La décision Cañas: nouvelles règles du jeu pour l’arbitrage international du sport’ (2007)  CAUSASPORT 2007, 161.

[21] A Rigozzi (n 13), 325.

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