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

Final Report on the FIFA Governance Reform Project: The Past and Future of FIFA’s Good Governance Gap

Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup left many people thunderstruck: How can a country with a population of 2 million people and with absolutely no football tradition host the biggest football event in the world? Furthermore, how on earth can players and fans alike survive when the temperature is expected to exceed 50 °C during the month (June) the tournament is supposed to take place?

Other people were less surprised when FIFA’s President, Sepp Blatter, pulled the piece of paper with the word “Qatar” out of the envelope on 2 December 2010. This was just the latest move by a sporting body that was reinforcing a reputation of being over-conservative, corrupt, prone to conflict-of-interest and convinced of being above any Law, be it national or international.More...

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. More...

Cocaine, Doping and the Court of Arbitration for sport - “I don’t like the drugs, but the drugs like me”. By Antoine Duval

Beginning of April 2014, the Colombian Olympic Swimmer Omar Pinzón was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of an adverse finding of Cocaine detected in a urine sample in 2013. He got lucky. Indeed, in his case the incredible mismanagement and dilettante habits of Bogotá’s anti-doping laboratory saved him from a dire fate: the two-year ban many other athletes have had the bad luck to experience. More...

The French “betting right”: a legislative Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. By Ben Van Rompuy

The European Commission has published the “Study on Sports Organisers’ Rights in the EU”, which was carried out by the ASSER International Sports Law Centre (T.M.C. Asser Institute) and the Institute for Information Law (University of Amsterdam). 

The study critically examines the legal protection of rights to sports events (sports organisers’ rights) and various issues regarding their commercial exploitation in the field of media and sports betting, both from a national and EU law perspective.  

In a number of posts, we will highlight some of the key findings of the study. 

“It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty.” 

In recent years, numerous national and European sports organisers have called for the adoption of a specific right to consent to the organisation of bets (“right to consent to bets”), by virtue of which no betting operator could offer bets on a sports event without first entering into a contractual agreement with the organiser. More...

Five Years UEFA Club Licensing Benchmarking Report – A Report on the Reports. By Frédérique Faut, Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

Last week, UEFA, presented its annual Club Licensing Benchmark Report, which analyses socio-economic trends in European club football. The report is relevant in regard to the FFP rules, as it has been hailed by UEFA as a vindication of the early (positive) impact of FFP. This blog post is a report on the report. We go back in time, analysing the last 5 UEFA Benchmarking Reports, to provide a dynamic account of the reports findings. Indeed, the 2012 Benchmarking Report, can be better grasped in this context and longer-lasting trends be identified.More...

The EU State aid and Sport Saga – Setting the scene

The last years has seen the European Commission being put under increasing pressure to enforce EU State aid law in sport. For example, numerous Parliamentary questions have been asked by Members of the European Parliament[1] regarding alleged State aid to sporting clubs.  In reply to this pressure, on 21 March 2012, the European Commission, together with UEFA, issued a statement. More...

FFP for Dummies. All you need to know about UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations.

Football-wise, 2014 will not only be remembered for the World Cup in Brazil. This year will also determine the credibility of UEFA’s highly controversial Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations. The FFP debate will soon be reaching a climax, since up to 76 European football clubs are facing sanctions by the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB). More...

Prof. Weatherill's lecture on : Three Strategies for defending 'Sporting Autonomy'

On 10 April, the ASSER Sports Law Centre had the honour of welcoming Prof. Weatherill (Oxford University) for a thought-provoking lecture.

In his lecture, Prof. Weatherill outlined to what extent the rules of Sports Governing Bodies enjoy legal autonomy (the so-called lex sportiva) and to what extent this autonomy could be limited by other fields of law such as EU Law. The 45 minutes long lecture lays out three main strategies used in different contexts (National, European or International) by the lex sportiva to secure its autonomy. The first strategy, "The contractual solution", relies on arbitration to escape the purview of national and European law. The second strategy, is to have recourse to "The legislative solution", i.e. to use the medium of national legislations to impose lex sportiva's autonomy. The third and last strategy - "The interpretative or adjudicative solution"- relies on the use of interpretation in front of courts to secure an autonomous realm to the lex sportiva



Tapping TV Money: Players' Union Scores A Goal In Brazil. By Giandonato Marino

On March 27, 2014, a Brazilian court ruling authorized the Football Players’ Union in the State of Sao Paulo[1] to tap funds generated by TV rights agreements destined to a Brazilian Club, Comercial Futebol Clube (hereinafter “Comercial”). The Court came to this decision after Comercial did not comply with its obligation  to pay players’ salaries. It is a peculiar decision when taking into account the global problem of clubs overspending and not complying with their financial obligations.  Furthermore, it could create a precedent for future cases regarding default by professional sporting clubs.


International transfers of minors: The sword of Damocles over FC Barcelona’s head? by Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

In the same week that saw Europe’s best eight teams compete in the Champions League quarter finals, one of its competitors received such a severe disciplinary sanction by FIFA that it could see its status as one of the world’s top teams jeopardized. FC Barcelona, a club that owes its success both at a national and international level for a large part to its outstanding youth academy, La Masia, got to FIFA’s attention for breaching FIFA Regulations on international transfers of minors. More...

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    Asser International Sports Law Blog | The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act I: Saved by the Osaka Déjà-Vu

    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 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:

    Act I: Saved by the Osaka déjà-vu

    Paragraph 3 of the IOC Decision: “The ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction”. 

    Yulia Efimova, a top-level Russian swimmer, had a rough time at the Rio Games, where she was much criticized by her peers. Yet, as a sweet revenge, she did win two silver medals. Her achievement was made possible by a decision of the CAS ad hoc Division that enabled her to compete, although she had been sanctioned previously for doping and fell under paragraph 3 of the IOC Decision. In principle, Efimova, like the rowers Anastasia Karabelshikova and Ivan Podshivalov, did not comply with the criteria imposed by the IOC. However, in the awards CAS OG 16/13 and CAS OG 16/06, the CAS Panels, relying primarily on the concept of ‘natural justice’ and referring to the established CAS jurisprudence regarding the so-called ‘Osaka rule’,[5] sided with the Russian athletes against the IOC. The ‘Osaka rule’, which was adopted by the IOC in June 2008 in Osaka, foresaw that any person sanctioned with a doping ban of more than six months would be ineligible for the Olympic Games following the date of expiry of the ban. In 2011, the CAS found that rule to be contrary to the WADA Code and the IOC’s Olympic Charter.[6]

    In both awards, the CAS ad hoc Division clearly identified that the “issues before the Panel focused primarily upon the legality of paragraph 3 of the
IOC Decision”.[7] The arbitrators emphasized that the IOC had acted in “good faith and with the best intentions”[8] in addressing the release of the IP Report. However, the Panels also stressed that the IOC Decision recognised the “right of the individual athletes to natural justice”.[9] In this regard, both Panels challenged the legality of paragraph 3 of the IOC Decision. Thus, it is argued that this paragraph “contains simple, unqualified and absolute criterion”.[10] Furthermore, “there is no recourse for such an athlete, no criteria that considers the promotion by the athlete of clean athletics (as the IAAF consider by way of an example) or any other criteria at all”.[11] Therefore, the arbitrators struggled “to reconcile this paragraph [3] with the stated aim to provide the athletes with an opportunity to rebut the presumption of guilt and to recognise the right to natural justice”.[12] Consequently, “this denial of the rules of natural justice renders paragraph 3 as unenforceable”.[13] Another related question was whether paragraph 3 should be treated as an eligibility rule or an additional sanction on athletes that had already been sanctioned for positive doping test. Though they deemed it a moot point, both Panels referred to the well-known case law of the CAS on the ‘Osaka rule’ to find that paragraph 3 constitutes an additional sanction.[14]

    While Efimova went on to win two medals, both Karabelshikova and
 Podshivalov were barred from participating to the Rio Games on other grounds. The fact that paragraph 3 of the IOC Decision is deemed unenforceable should come as no surprise to anybody involved in international sports law. The CAS jurisprudence on this matter is very much a principle stand, under the current WADA Code there is simply no room for an Olympic ban in addition to a doping ban. This is a lesson often lost on the media and general public during Olympic days, but the principle of legality is a cornerstone principle of our legal systems and cannot be discarded lightly. Why the IOC decided to ignore this jurisprudence is open to interrogation. Did it want to appear as doing something substantial, while being aware that the CAS would not allow the rule to fly? Maybe. If not, paragraph 3 of the IOC Decision was just legal amateurism at its best, unjustifiable under any state of doping emergency.

    [1] On the first years of the CAS ad hoc Division, see G. Kaufmann-Kohler, Arbitration at the Olympics, Kluwer Law, 2001.

    [2] This decision was upheld by the CAS in an unpublished award CAS 2016/0/4684.

    [3] On the role of the CAS ad hoc Division in Olympic selection dispute see A. Duval, Getting to the games: the Olympic selection drama(s) at the court of arbitration for sport, The International Sports Law Journal, July 2016, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 52–66.

    [4] The following awards are reviewed: CAS OG 16/13 Anastasia Karabelshikova & Ivan Podshivalov v. FISA & IOC ; CAS OG 16/04 Yulia Efimova v. ROC, IOC & FINA ; CAS OG 16/09 RWF v. IWF ; CAS OG 16/11 Daniil Andrienko et al. v. FISA & IOC ; CAS OG 16/18 Kiril Sveshnikov et al. v. UCI & IOC ; CAS OG 16/19 Natalia Podolskaya & Alexander Dyachenko v. ICF ; CAS OG 16/12 Ivan Balandin v. FISA & IOC ; CAS OG 16/21 Elena Anyushina & Alexey Korovashkov v. ICF & RCF ; CAS OG 16/24 Darya Klishina v. IAAF.

    [5] See CAS 2011/O/2422 USOC v. IOC and CAS 2011/A/2658 British Olympic Association (BOA) v. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

    [6] See CAS 2011/O/2422 USOC v. IOC.

    [7] CAS OG 16/13, para. 7.5 and CAS OG 16/04, para. 7.10.

    [8] Ibid., para. 7.11 and ibid., para. 7.12.

    [9] Ibid., para. 7.16 and similarly ibid., para. 7.18.

    [10] Ibid., para. 7.17.

    [11] Ibid.

    [12] Ibid, para. 7.18.

    [13] Ibid., para. 7.18 and CAS OG 16/04, para. 7.25.

    [14] Ibid., paras 7.19-7.22 and ibid., para. 7-17.

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