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 European Commission’s ISU antitrust investigation explained. By Ben Van Rompuy

In June 2014, two prominent Dutch speed skaters, Mark Tuitert (Olympic Champion 1500m) and Niels Kerstholt (World Champion short track), filed a competition law complaint against the International Skating Union (ISU) with the European Commission.


ChanceToCompeteTwitter.png (50.4KB)


Today, the European Commission announced that it has opened a formal antitrust investigation into International Skating Union (ISU) rules that permanently ban skaters from competitions such as the Winter Olympics and the ISU World and European Championships if they take part in events not organised or promoted by the ISU. The Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, stated that the Commission "will investigate if such rules are being abused to enforce a monopoly over the organisation of sporting events or otherwise restrict competition. Athletes can only compete at the highest level for a limited number of years, so there must be good reasons for preventing them to take part in events."

Since the case originates from legal advice provided by the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, we thought it would be helpful to provide some clarifications on the background of the case and the main legal issues at stake. More...





Interview with Wil van Megen (Legal Director of FIFPro) on FIFPro’s EU Competition Law complaint against the FIFA Transfer System

Editor’s note
Wil is working as a lawyer since 1980. He started his legal career at Rechtshulp Rotterdam. Later on he worked for the Dutch national trade union FNV and law firm Varrolaan Advocaten. Currently he is participating in the Labour Law Section of lawfirm MHZ-advocaten in Schiedam in the Netherlands. He is also a member of a joint committee advising the government in labour issues.

Since 1991 he is dealing with the labour issues of the trade union for professional football players VVCS and cyclists’ union VVBW. Since 2002, he works for FIFPro, the worldwide union for professional football players based in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. He is involved in many international football cases and provides legal support for FIFPro members all over the world. Wil was also involved in the FIFPro Black Book campaign on match fixing and corruption in Eastern Europe. More...


The Scala reform proposals for FIFA: Old wine in new bottles?

Rien ne va plus at FIFA. The news that FIFA’s Secretary General Jérôme Valcke was put on leave and released from his duties has been quickly overtaken by the opening of a criminal investigation targeting both Blatter and Platini.

With FIFA hopping from one scandal to the next, one tends to disregard the fact that it has been attempting (or rather pretending) to improve the governance of the organisation for some years now. In previous blogs (here and here), we discussed the so-called ‘FIFA Governance Reform Project’, a project carried out by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Mark Pieth of the Basel Institute on Governance. Their third and final report, published on 22 April 2014, listed a set of achievements made by FIFA in the area of good governance since 2011, such as establishing an Audit and Compliance Committee (A&C). However, the report also indicated the reform proposals that FIFA had not met. These proposals included the introduction of term limits for specific FIFA officials (e.g. the President) as well as introducing an integrity review procedure for all the members of the Executive Committee (ExCo) and the Standing Committees. More...

Why the CAS #LetDuteeRun: the Proportionality of the Regulation of Hyperandrogenism in Athletics by Piotr Drabik

Editor's note
Piotr is an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

Introduction

On 24 July the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued its decision in the proceedings brought by the Indian athlete Ms. Dutee Chand against the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in which she challenged the validity of the IAAF Regulations Governing Eligibility of Female with Hyperandrogenism to Compete in Women’s Competition (Regulations). The Regulations were established in 2011 as a response to the controversies surrounding South African athlete Caster Semenya (see e.g. here, here, and here), and for the purpose of safeguarding fairness in sport by prohibiting women with hyperandrogenism, i.e. those with excessive levels of endogenous (naturally occurring) testosterone, from competing in women athletics competitions. Owing to the subject-matter that the Regulations cover, the case before the CAS generated complex legal, scientific and ethical questions. The following case note thus aims at explaining how the Panel addressed the issues raised by the Indian athlete. It follows a previous blog we published in December 2014 that analysed the arguments raised in favour of Ms. Chand. More...




Not comfortably satisfied? The upcoming Court of Arbitration for Sport case of the thirty-four current and former players of the Essendon football club. By James Kitching

Editor's note: James Kitching is Legal Counsel and Secretary to the AFC judicial bodies at the Asian Football Confederation. James is an Australian and Italian citizen and one of the few Australians working in international sports law. He is admitted as barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of South Australia. James graduated from the International Master in the Management, Law, and Humanities of Sport offered by the Centre International d'Etude du Sport in July 2012.


Introduction

On 12 May 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had filed an appeal against the decision issued by the Australian Football League (AFL) Anti-Doping Tribunal (AADT) that thirty-four current and former players of Essendon Football Club (Essendon) had not committed any anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) identified within the AFL Anti-Doping Code (AADC). The players had each been charged with using Thymosin-Beta 4 (TB4) during the 2012 AFL season.

On 1 June 2015, WADA announced that it had filed an appeal against the decision by the AADT to clear Mr. Stephen Dank (Dank), a sports scientist employed at Essendon during the relevant period, of twenty-one charges of violating the AADC. Dank was, however, found guilty of ten charges and banned for life.

This blog will solely discuss the likelihood of the first AADT decision (the Decision) being overturned by the CAS. It will briefly summarise the facts, discuss the applicable rules and decision of the AADT, review similar cases involving ‘non-analytical positive’ ADRVs relating to the use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method, and examine whether the Code of Sports-related Arbitration (CAS Code) is able to assist WADA in its appeal.

This blog will not examine the soap opera that was the two years leading-up to the Decision. Readers seeking a comprehensive factual background should view the excellent up-to-date timeline published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. More...


EU Law is not enough: Why FIFA's TPO ban survived its first challenge before the Brussels Court


Star Lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont is almost a monopolist as far as high profile EU law and football cases are concerned. This year, besides a mediatised challenge against UEFA’s FFP regulations, he is going after FIFA’s TPO ban on behalf of the Spanish and Portuguese leagues in front of the EU Commission, but also before the Brussels First Instance Court defending the infamous Malta-based football investment firm Doyen Sport. FIFA and UEFA’s archenemy, probably electrified by the 20 years of the Bosman ruling, is emphatically trying to reproduce his world-famous legal prowess. Despite a first spark at a success in the FFP case against UEFA with the Court of first instance of Brussels sending a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), this has proven to be a mirage as the CJEU refused, as foretold, to answer the questions of the Brussels Court, while the provisory measures ordered by the judge have been suspended due to UEFA’s appeal. But, there was still hope, the case against FIFA’s TPO ban, also involving UEFA and the Belgium federation, was pending in front of the same Brussels Court of First Instance, which had proven to be very willing to block UEFA’s FFP regulations. Yet, the final ruling is another disappointment for Dupont (and good news for FIFA). The Court refused to give way to Doyen’s demands for provisional measures and a preliminary reference. The likelihood of a timely Bosman bis repetita is fading away. Fortunately, we got hold of the judgment of the Brussels court and it is certainly of interest to all those eagerly awaiting to know whether FIFA’s TPO ban will be deemed compatible or not with EU law. More...


The New FIFA Intermediaries Regulations under EU Law Fire in Germany. By Tine Misic

I'm sure that in 1985, plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1955, it's a little hard to come by.” (Dr. Emmett L. Brown)[1]


Back to the future?

Availing oneself of EU law in the ambit of sports in 1995 must have felt a bit like digging for plutonium, but following the landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Bosman case[2], 20 years later, with all the buzz surrounding several cases where EU law is being used as an efficient ammunition for shelling various sports governing or organising bodies, one may wonder if in 2015 EU law is to be “found in every drug store” and the recent cases (see inter alia Heinz Müller v 1. FSV Mainz 05, Daniel Striani ao v UEFA, Doyen Sports ao v URBSFA, FIFA, UEFA) [3] cannot but invitingly evoke the spirit of 1995.

One of the aforementioned cases that also stands out pertains to the injunction decision[4] issued on 29 April 2015 by the Regional Court (Landesgericht) in Frankfurt am Main (hereinafter: the Court) in the dispute between the intermediary company Firma Rogon Sportmanagement (hereinafter: the claimant) and the German Football Federation (Deutschen Fußball-Bund, DFB), where the claimant challenged the provisions of the newly adopted DFB Regulations on Intermediaries (hereinafter: DFB Regulations)[5] for being incompatible with Articles 101 and 102 TFEU.[6] The Court, by acknowledging the urgency of the matter stemming from the upcoming transfer window and the potential loss of clients, deemed a couple of shells directed at the DFB Regulations to be well-aimed, and granted an injunction due to breach of Article 101 TFEU. More...




Compatibility of fixed-term contracts in football with Directive 1999/70/EC. Part 2: The Heinz Müller case. By Piotr Drabik

Introduction
The first part of the present blog article provided a general introduction to the compatibility of fixed-term contracts in football with Directive 1999/70/EC[1] (Directive). However, as the Member States of the European Union enjoy a considerable discretion in the implementation of a directive, grasping the impact of the Directive on the world of football would not be possible without considering the national context. The recent ruling of the Arbeitsgericht Mainz (the lowest German labour court; hereinafter the Court) in proceedings brought by a German footballer Heinz Müller provides an important example in this regard. This second part of the blog on the legality of fixed-term contract in football is devoted to presenting and assessing the Court’s decision.


I. Facts and Procedure
Heinz Müller, the main protagonist of this case, was a goalkeeper playing for 1.FSV Mainz 05 a club partaking to the German Bundesliga. More...


Compatibility of Fixed-Term Contracts in Football with Directive 1999/70/EC. Part.1: The General Framework. By Piotr Drabik

Introduction
On 25 March 2015, the Labour Court of Mainz issued its decision in proceedings brought by a German footballer, Heinz Müller, against his (now former) club 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Mainz 05). The Court sided with the player and ruled that Müller should have been employed by Mainz 05 for an indefinite period following his 2009 three year contract with the club which was subsequently extended in 2011 to run until mid-2014. The judgment was based on national law implementing Directive 1999/70 on fixed-term work[1] (Directive) with the latter being introduced pursuant to art. 155(2) TFEU (ex art. 139(2) TEC). On the basis of this article, European social partners’ may request a framework agreement which they conclude to be implemented on the European Union (EU, Union) level by a Council decision on a proposal from the Commission. One of the objectives of the framework agreement,[2] and therefore of the Directive, was to establish a system to prevent abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts or relationships[3] which lies at the heart of the discussed problem.[4] More...

UEFA’s FFP out in the open: The Dynamo Moscow Case

Ever since UEFA started imposing disciplinary measures to football clubs for not complying with Financial Fair Play’s break-even requirement in 2014, it remained a mystery how UEFA’s disciplinary bodies were enforcing the Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (“FFP”) regulations, what measures it was imposing, and what the justifications were for the imposition of these measures. For over a year, the general public could only take note of the 23 settlement agreements between Europe’s footballing body and the clubs. The evidential obstacle for a proper analysis was that the actual settlements remained confidential, as was stressed in several of our previous Blogs.[1] The information provided by the press releases lacked the necessary information to answer the abovementioned questions.

On 24 April 2015, the UEFA Club Financial Control Body lifted part of the veil by referring FC Dynamo Moscow to the Adjudicatory Body. Finally, the Adjudicatory Body had the opportunity to decide on a “FFP case. The anxiously-awaited Decision was reached by the Adjudicatory Chamber on 19 June and published not long after. Now that the Decision has been made public, a new stage of the debate regarding UEFA’s FFP policy can start.More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | The CAS Ad Hoc Division in 2014: Business As Usual? - Part. 2: The Selection Drama

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 CAS Ad Hoc Division in 2014: Business As Usual? - Part. 2: The Selection Drama

In a first blog last month we discussed the problem of the scope of jurisdiction of the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The key issue was whether an athlete could get his case heard in front of the CAS Ad Hoc Division or not. In this second part, we will also focus on whether an athlete can access a forum, but a different kind of forum: the Olympic Games as such. This is a dramatic moment in an athlete’s life, one that will decide the future path of an entire career and most likely a lifetime of opportunities. Thus, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly, nor in disregard of the athletes’ due process rights. In the past, several (non-)selection cases were referred to the Ad Hoc Divisions at the Olympic Games, and this was again the case in 2014, providing us with the opportunity for the present review.

Three out of four cases dealt with by the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Sochi involved an athlete contesting her eviction from the Games. Each case is specific in its factual and legal assessment and deserves an individual review.

 

I.               Daniela Bauer (CAS OG 14/01)

Daniela Bauer is an Austrian halfpipe freestyle skier contesting the decision by the Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Austrian Ski Federation (ASF) not to select her for the Sochi Olympic Games. Shortly before the Games, a member of the ASF had informed Ms. Bauer that she would get to participate in the Olympics if Austria were offered an additional quota place for the halfpipe competition.[1] But, when the AOC got the opportunity to fill such a quota spot, it declined to use it. It did so because “the sporting performances of the Austrian athletes in this discipline were not good enough and would adversely affect the overall perception of the Federation and its athletes at the Olympics”[2]. Hence, on 2 February 2014, the athlete decided to file an application with the CAS Ad Hoc Division against her non-selection.

She claimed that ASF and AOC had “induced legitimate expectations in the Applicant that having qualified under the FIS Rules she would be selected through the use of quota places”. Therefore, ASF and AOC “are estopped[3] from changing their course of action, i.e. from relying on their authority in any given case to decline the quota allocated to Austria”[4]. Moreover, she argued that “[t]he right of the ASF to recommend an athlete to the AOC (Rule 44.4 of the OC) as well as the right of the AOC to select an athlete for the Olympic Games (Rule 27.7.2 of the OC) cannot be exercised in an unreasonable manner”[5]. This standard of reasonableness was not met in her case because[6]:

  • “no reasons were given”;
  • “the Respondents’ discretion not to recommend and select her was exercised arbitrarily”;
  • “the applicant was never notified that reference would be made to the above-mentioned criterion of sporting perspective”;
  • “the AOC violated Rule 44.4 of the OC by not investigating whether the ASF’s non-recommendation was based on discrimination”;
  • “the AOC should accept all the quotas allocated to it, irrespective of the potential results of the nominated athletes”;
  • and she “should have been immediately informed of the decisions taken by the ASF and AOC”.

The ASF and AOC opposed that “[n]o person has the authority to bind the ASF and the AOC with respect to the Applicant’s participation in the Olympic Games” and, therefore, “[t]he AOC has the exclusive authority under Rule 27 of the OC to decide which athletes shall take part in the Olympic Games” [7].

The jurisdiction of the CAS Ad Hoc Division was not contested and the panel moved directly to the merit of the case. The panel refers to its settled case-law and reminds that “it is not in issue that it is for an NOC to select its competitors for the Olympics […] (CAS OG 08/03)”[8]. Hence, “although the Applicant satisfied the FIS minimum qualification standards and the AOC was below its maximum athlete quotas for all freestyle events, the AOC would have violated the OC by nominating her for a quota allocation for women’s halfpipe as she had not been recommended by the ASF”[9]. Even though it is acknowledged that ASF member Mr. Rijavec “may have created an expectation that the ASF would recommend to the AOC that she would be nominated for a quota allocation”, he “was not authorized to make any representations, promises or guarantees regarding whether the AOC would nominate her if she satisfied these standards”[10]. Consequently, no legitimate expectations to be selected could arise. In addition to this, the panel found that the ASF disposes of a “significant degree of subjective discretion”[11] as it does not have recourse to any objective criteria regarding the selection of freestyle skiers.[12] Nevertheless, it “has a legal duty not to be arbitrary, unfair, or unreasonable”, which it was not in this instance as “it had a legitimate sports performance justification” .[13]

Finally, the Panel, in a remarkable twist of mind, “wishes to express in clear terms that it does not condone its lack of published qualification criteria that misled the Applicant by failing to provide clear and timely notice of the performance standards she was required to meet in order to be recommended by the ASF for the nomination by the AOC to the Austrian Olympic team”. Additionally, “the panel strongly recommends that the ASF establish, identify, and publish clear criteria to enable athletes to determine in a timely manner the Olympic Games qualification standards they are required to meet” .[14] Despite these final remonstrances, the panel concludes that the claims of Ms. Bauer lack merit.

 

II.             Clyde Getty (CAS OG 14/02)

The claimant, Mr. Getty, is an Argentinean freestyle skier competing in the aerials discipline; the respondent is the International Ski Federation (FIS). This is a case also related to the attribution of an additional quota spot to participate to the Sochi Olympic Games. On 24 January the Argentinean Ski Federation (FASA) received an email from the FIS informing it that it was allocated a quota spot for the aerials competition in Sochi. The FASA immediately informed Mr. Getty of the good news. However, later that day, after confirming its interest in the spot, the federation received a second email from FIS stating that FASA “does not have an athlete that is eligible to participate in the Aerials men event” and therefore cannot get the spot misleadingly offered in the first email. Henceforth, Mr. Getty decided to challenge his proclaimed ineligibility to participate to the Olympics in front of the CAS Ad Hoc Division. 

Mr Getty claims that he is “eligible to be entered into the Sochi Games by the Argentinean NOC irrespective of his current FIS points”[15]. He is of the opinion that FIS rules are ambiguous on the selection process for quota spots and therefore should be interpreted in his favour on the basis of the contra preferentem principle.[16] Moreover, he argues that “FIS is estopped from denying [him] a quota place” [17]. In other words, Mr. Getty claims FIS had prompted legitimate expectations, especially after the 24 January  email, that he would be participating to the Sochi Olympic Games. Finally, Mr Getty submits that denying him the participation in the Sochi Games “would be unfair and contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Movement” [18]. He bases his claim, amongst many other things, on the fact that he is the only freestyle athlete representing South America and that his “dedication to sport is an inspiration to many” [19]. The FIS disputes these claims and points out that “the Applicant’s description of the qualification procedure is incorrect and misleading” [20]. In fact, Mr. Getty never reached the minimum points for eligibility, nor is any alternative qualification criterion accessible. Likewise, the FIS is not estopped, as it could not create any legitimate expectations with its email.

The jurisdiction of the CAS Ad Hoc Tribunal was not contested and the panel proceeded directly to the merit. As a preamble, the arbitrators remind that “[u]nder Swiss law, the interpretation of statutes has to be rather objective and always start with the wording of the rule”[21]. After reviewing the wording of the FIS’s regulations, the panel concludes that, in the present case, “[a] good faith common sense reading leads to the conclusion that the rules unambiguously require all competitors to meet the individual eligibility requirements” [22]. Additionally, “[t]he fact that the Applicant cannot point to a single instance in the past where an athlete was allowed to compete in the Olympic Games without meeting the eligibility requirements […] is further evidence of this conclusion” [23].

Moreover, the FIS is not deemed estopped from denying Mr. Getty a quota place for the Sochi Olympic Games. In this regard, the Panel notes that “FIS never made during the qualification period a representation that Mr. Getty was eligibile” [24], nor is there “evidence that during the qualification period Mr. Getty received from FIS an individual assurance that he was eligible” [25], and “the fact that COA might ultimately obtain a quota place did (and could) not suggest that FIS would waive the minimum individual qualification requirement for any athlete assigned to that quota place” [26], most importantly “all correspondence between FASA or COA and FIS on 24 October 2014 did not contain any express and individual reference to Mr. Getty”[27]. This is a fundamental difference compared to the existing precedents invoked by Mr. Getty. Indeed, in those cases “the athlete had been given specific and individual assurances about his eligibility” (CAS OG 02/06 & CAS OG 08/02) or “the international federation changed its rules with retroactive effects, depriving an athlete of the eligibility that could be assumed on the basis of prior rules”[28] (CAS 2008/O/1455).

Finally, the Panel also held that the fact that the participation of Mr. Getty to the Sochi Games would be in line with the Olympic spirit is a matter of policy. These concerns are for “FIS to consider when adopting the eligibility rules for the Olympic games; they are not for this Panel which is only asked to apply the existing rules”[29]. Even though the Panel is sympathetic to the athlete’s drive to participate to the Sochi Olympic Games it rejects the application filed by Mr. Getty.

 

III.           Maria Birkner (CAS OG 14/03)

The final, and maybe most complex and controversial case, is the one involving a well-known Argentine alpine skier: María Birkner. The National Olympic Committee for Argentina (COA) and the Argentinean Ski Federation (FASA) are the respondents in the proceedings. On 20 January 2014 the FASA told Ms. Birkner that she was not selected for the Sochi Olympic Games. This decision not to select her is challenged in front of the CAS Ad Hoc Division.

Ms. Birkner claims “that she was discriminated against on the basis of her being a member of her family”[30]. For a number of reasons, she claims that the Federation has purposefully conspired to banish her from its activities and to exclude her from the Olympic games[31]. Chiefly, she claims the federation has purposefully informed her after the final decision of the existence of specific selection criteria and of a technical committee in charge of the selection. As discussed in the previous blog, the jurisdiction of the Ad Hoc Division was challenged and the panel found that it did not have jurisdiction. Nonetheless, it decided to consider the merits of the case anyway.

The arbitrators brushed aside any bias against the family of Ms. Birkner noting that two of her siblings were present in Sochi and that her brother had even the privilege of carrying the Argentinean Flag during the opening ceremony.[32] Furthermore, in the eyes of the panel, the claimant failed to establish that the qualification process, the Technical Committee and the selection criteria used were biased against her.[33] Indeed, “it cannot be said that the selection criteria said to be applied were arbitrary or unreasonable”[34]. The panel considers that the recriminations of Ms. Birkner against the selection process, especially the allegations of a bias from the part of the Technical Committee and that the other skiers had previous knowledge of the main selection criteria were not sufficiently substantiated and could not be established for the sake of this procedure.

The panel is of the view that the situation is similar to the one of the Bauer case discussed above. Therefore, it recalls the holding of the Bauer Panel observing that “there was a legal duty not to be arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable in the application of objective criteria or in the exercise of subjective discretion but that the exercise of discretion was not so characterised where there was a legitimate sports performance justification for selection”[35]. It finds that “a discretion based on “the evolution and projection in the future” [as invoked by the FASA] is not arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable” [36]. Nevertheless, the panel refers to the obiter holding in the Bauer case and “recommends that FASA establishes, identifies and publishes clear criteria in a timely manner to enable athletes to understand those criteria and the Olympic Games qualification standards that they are required to meet in order to be recommended for selection by COA” [37]. In the present case, “a dedicated athlete with an outstanding history of representing her country, who had successfully competed in many international as well as national events, was devastated by the decision made not to select her, when she had believed that, on the criteria that she had mistakenly understood had applied, she would represent her country at the Sochi Olympic Games” [38].


Conclusion: Deference is not enough 

Selection disputes constitute a big part of the CAS Ad Hoc Division’s caseload.[39] This is probably inevitable, as the non-selection for the Olympic Games is often the toughest setback faced by an athlete in her career. The Sochi cases do not fundamentally sidestep the existing case law of the CAS Ad Hoc Division in this regard. The deference to the subjective criteria used by the National Olympic Committee’s (NOCs) and the International federations (Ifs) is reaffirmed, unless those criteria are applied in an “arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable” way. Furthermore, an athlete can hardly rely on any legitimate expectations, unless he has been offered personally and officially a spot to participate to the Olympic Games. Hence, a non-selection can only be challenged successfully in the most extreme cases. However, when the behaviour of the federation is, to say the least, ambiguous as in the Birkner case, a very heavy burden of proof lies on the shoulder of the athlete to turn this ambiguity into the recognition of an “arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable” behaviour. 

The Sochi Ad Hoc Division’s approach to selection cases is flawed with paradoxical feelings. On the one hand, it urges the Ifs and NOCs to devise and publish “clear criteria in a timely manner”, but, on the other hand, it encourages them not do so by limiting the reviewability of their subjective and blurry selection practices. In short, Panels openly favour objective and predictable schemes on which athletes can rely, while incentivizing subjective and unpredictable assessments by leaving untouched the wide scope of discretion of the Ifs and NOCs.[40] The paradoxical and irreconcilable nature of these views should lead the CAS to reconsider its approach to the selection process. The Sochi panels instinctively felt there was something fundamentally unfair with the non-selection of Ms. Bauer and Ms. Birkner. In this regard, the panels’ final incantations for change will remain unanswered if the CAS Ad Hoc Division refuses to contribute through its jurisprudence to the rise of clear selection criteria. It should impose a more stringent review of the subjective criteria used by the Ifs, by promoting a less strict understanding of the notion of “arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable” scheme and/or by alleviating the burden of proof bearing on athletes to establish the abusive nature of a selection process.

In fact, such an evolution would be in a line with the will expressed by the Olympic movement during the Olympic Agenda 2020 process to be irreproachable in terms of good governance and transparency. The existence of publicly known and clearly defined standards and rules is a hallmark of such good governance. Getting to the Olympics is just too important for athletes to be left at the mercy of the unchecked will


[1] CAS OG 14/01, point 2.5

[2] CAS OG 14/01, point 2.10

[3] For a quick introduction to the doctrine of Estoppel see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel

[4] CAS OG 14/01, point 4.2 a)

[5] CAS OG 14/01, point 4.2 b)

[6] CAS OG 14/01, point 4.2 b) i) to vi)

[7] CAS OG 14/01, point 4.3 a) and c)

[8] CAS OG 14/01, point 7.5

[9] CAS OG 14/01, point 7.10

[10] CAS OG 14/01, point 7.12

[11] CAS OG 14/01, point 7.15

[12]In contrast with CAS OG 06/08 and CAS OG 06/02.

[13] CAS OG 14/01, point 7.15

[14]CAS OG 14/01, point 7.16

[15] CAS OG 14/02, point 4.2 a)

[16] CAS OG 14/02, point 4.2 a)

[17] CAS OG 14/02, point 4.2 b)

[18] CAS OG 14/02, point 4.2 c)

[19] CAS OG 14/02, point 4.2 c)

[20] CAS OG 14/02, point 4.3 a)

[21] CAS OG 14/02, point 7.4

[22] CAS OG 14/02, point 8.9

[23] CAS OG 14/02, point 8.10

[24] CAS OG 14/02, point 8.17 i.

[25]CAS OG 14/02, point 8.17 ii.

[26] CAS OG 14/02, point 8.17 iii.

[27] CAS OG 14/02, point 8.17 vi.

[28] CAS OG 14/02, point 8.17 vii.

[29] CAS OG 14/02, point 8.20

[30] CAS OG 14/03, point 4.3

[31] CAS OG 14/03, point 4.4

[32] CAS OG 14/03, point 7.4-7.7

[33] CAS OG 14/03, point 7.16-7.25

[34] CAS OG 14/03, point 7.19

[35] CAS OG 14/03, point 8.2

[36] CAS OG 14/03, point 8.3

[37] CAS OG 14/03, point 8.4

[38] CAS OG 14/03, point 8.4

[39] See the following cases : CAS OG 12/06 ; CAS OG 12/01 ; CAS OG 12/02 ; CAS OG 06/008 ; CAS OG 06/002 ; CAS OG 08/002; CAS OG 08/003; CAS OG 02/005

[40] A problem already identified by Antonio Rigozzi, which noted in 2006 that « This case law [CAS OG 06/002  & CAS OG 06/008] could lead to a switch (back) from selection based on objective criteria to more subjective process. This would be a regrettable evolution. To reduce the risk of dispute, the selecting bodies should enact objective criteria, which are easily intelligible, make sure that they are communicated to (and understood) by the athletes, and avoid any modification of the « rules of the game » during the selection » process. » A. Rigozzi, ‘The Decisions Rendered by the CAS Ad Hoc Division at the Turin Winter Olympic Games 2006’, Journal of International Arbitration, pp.453-466, p.466

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