THE SPORTS LAWYER is actually a posse of Britain’s brightest lawyers, from the Sport & Media team at the UK law firm, Thomas Eggar, who will be contributing features, analysis and insight on a regular basis on the key sports law issues of the day. In TSL’s latest column, Andrew Nixon discusses the controversial BOA by-law hearing.
28 January 2012
The controversial British Olympic Association by-law that imposes lifetime Olympic bans on athletes who have been suspended for six months or more will come before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on 12 March 2012.
The hearing has been listed following the determination by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) that the by-law violates the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code).
The battle ground will focus on whether or not the BOA, as a national governing body, should be entitled to set and impose its own laws on eligibility. The governing body will submit that the law is designed to protect the integrity of the sport and the clean athletes who comply: not to impose an additional, ‘double jeopardy’ sanction.
WADA’s position will be that the Code is a contract that binds the signatory governing bodies and if the BOA seek to enforce a rule that does not comply with the express terms of the Code it would be acting in breach of contract.
The timing of the hearing is clearly important, and a ruling can be expected in April. If the ruling goes against the BOA then it will open the door to athletes who are serving by-law bans, the most high profile of whom is Dwain Chambers. Chambers (and other athletes such as cyclist David Millar) will be monitoring the outcome of the hearing.
It is entirely possible that Chambers, who sits well inside the UK Athletics qualifying time, could be brought back into the fold to represent TeamGB at the forthcoming Olympic Games in London.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation face bankruptcy proceedings
The T&T Football Federation has been involved in a dispute dating back to 2006 with members of the T&T squad who competed at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The dispute relates to payments and bonuses the players believe they are owed following the country’s qualification for the competition.
The players won an arbitration award in England before the British Sports Disputes Resolution Panel, which they then sought to enforce through the T&T courts. That led to a court order that the federation board make an interim payment of US $710,000 within seven days; however, two months on the interim payment has yet to be made. The players have now threatened to bring bankruptcy proceedings against the federation.
The dispute arose because the players disputed the revenue declared by the federation following the 2006 World Cup, and if a resolution is not reached in the short term then winding up proceedings look likely. This will of course lead to the appointment of an administrator who will investigate the financial status of federation at the time, and where the revenue generated by the World Cup went. That is a far from ideal scenario. Firstly, if the federation goes into administration, there may well be other creditors ahead of the players. Secondly, the concept of a national governing body entering in administration is one FIFA will wish to avoid. FIFA will inevitably be monitoring this dispute closely, and may itself seek involvement before winding up proceedings are formally commenced.
Law Society Sports Law Conference
The Law Society Sports Law Conference takes place on 15 March 2012, addressing topics such as legal issues affecting the IOC; ambush marketing; broadcast rights after Murphy; Olympic disciplinary and team selection; social media; football governance; match fixing and the future of image rights.
For full details click this link.
Andrew Nixon is an Associate in the Sport and Media Group at Thomas Eggar.
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