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

WISLaw Blog Symposium - Why the existing athletes' Olympic entering system does not comply with the fundamental principles of Olympism enshrined in the Olympic Charter - By Anna Antseliovich

Editor's note: Anna Antseliovich heads the sports practice at the Moscow-based legal group Clever Consult. She also works as a senior researcher at the Federal Science Center for Physical Culture and Sport (Russia).


The Olympic Games have always been a source of genuine interest for spectators as Olympians have repeatedly demonstrated astounding capacity of the human body and mind in winning Olympic gold, or by achieving success despite all odds.

At the ancient and even the first modern Olympic Games, there was no concept of a national team; each Olympian represented only himself/herself. However, at the 1906 Intercalated Games[1] for the first time, athletes were nominated by the National Olympic Committees (‘NOCs’) and competed as members of national teams representing their respective countries. At the opening ceremony, the athletes walked under the flags of their countries. This was a major shift, which meant that not only the athletes themselves competed against each other, but so too did the nations in unofficial medal standings.  

The nomination and selection of athletes by their NOCs to compete under their national flag and represent their country is a matter of pride for the vast majority of athletes. However, to what extent does such a scheme correspond to the ideals which the Olympic Games were based on in ancient times? Is it possible to separate sport and politics in the modern world? More...


WISLaw Blog Symposium - Legal and other issues in Japan arising from the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games due to COVID-19 - By Yuri Yagi

Editor's note: Yuri Yagi is a sports lawyer involved in Sports Federations and Japanese Sports Organizations including the Japan Equestrian Federation (JEF), the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), the Japan Sports Council (JSC) and the All-Japan High School Equestrian Federation.


1. Introduction

Japan has held three Olympic Games since the inception of the modern Olympics;Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in 1964, Sapporo Winter Olympic Games in 1972, and Nagano Winter Olympic Games in 1998. Therefore, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020) are supposed to be the fourth to be held in Japan, the second for Tokyo. Tokyo 2020 were originally scheduled for 24 July 2020 to 9 August 2020. Interestingly, the word ‘postpone’ or ‘postponement’ does not appear in the Host City Contract (HCC).

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) decided on 24 March 2020 that Tokyo 2020 would be postponed because of the pandemic of COVID-19. Later on, the exact dates were fixed ‘from 23 July 2021 (date of the Opening Ceremony) to 8 August 2021 (date of the Closing Ceremony).

The process of the decision is stipulated in the ‘ADDENDUM N° 4’ signed by IOC, TMG, JOC and TOCOG.

This paper provides an overview of the current situation, along with legal and other issues in Japan that have arisen due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 due to COVID-19. The overview is offered from the perspective of a citizen of the host city and includes a consideration of national polls, the torch relay, vaccination, training camps, ever increasing costs, and the related provisions in the Candidature File and the Host City Contract. More...



WISLaw Blog Symposium - Stick to Sports: The Impact of Rule 50 on American Athletes at the Olympic Games - By Lindsay Brandon

Editor's note: Lindsay Brandon is Associate Attorney at Law Offices of Howard L. Jacobs


“Tell the white people of America and all over the world that if they don’t seem to care for the things black people do, they should not go to see black people perform.” – American sprinter and Olympic Medalist John Carlos

On 21 April 2021, the Athletes’ Commission (AC) of the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) received the “full support of the IOC Executive Board for a set of recommendations in regard to the Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and Athlete Expression at the Olympic Games.” This came over a year after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and almost a year after the IOC and AC embarked on an “extensive qualitative and quantitative” consultation process to reform Rule 50 involving over 3,500 athletes from around the globe.

Since its introduction of the new guidelines in January 2020, Rule 50 has been touted by the IOC as a means to protect the neutrality of sport and the Olympic Games, stating that “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or radical propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues, or other areas.”  In other words, the Olympics are a time to celebrate sport, and any political act or demonstration might ruin their “moment of glory”.

In fact, the Rule 50 Guidelines say that a fundamental principle of sport is that it is neutral, and “must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference.” But this separation is not necessarily rooted in totality in modern sports culture[1], particularly in the United States (“U.S.”).  This is evidenced by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (“USOPC”) committing to not sanctioning Team USA athletes for protesting at the Olympics. The USOPC Athletes stated “Prohibiting athletes to freely express their views during the Games, particularly those from historically underrepresented and minoritized groups, contributes to the dehumanization of athletes that is at odds with key Olympic and Paralympic values.” More...



WISLaw Blog Symposium - 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games - Introduction

Women In Sports Law (WISLaw) is an international, non-profit association based in Switzerland and aimed at promoting women in the sports law sector, through scientific and networking events, annual meetings and annual reports. WISLaw’s objectives are to raise awareness of the presence, role and contribution of women in the sports law sector, enhance their cooperation, and empower its global membership through various initiatives.

This year, WISLaw has partnered with the Asser International Sports Law Blog to organise a special blog symposium featuring WISLaw members. The  symposium will entail both the publication of a series of blog posts authored by WISLaw members, and a virtual webinar (accessible at https://lnkd.in/dgWsy6q with the Passcode 211433) to promote discussion on the selected topics. Article contributions were invited on the topic of legal issues surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In the midst of a pandemic and the rise of social justice movements around the world, the Games and their organisation gave rise to a number of interesting legal issues and challenges, which will be explored through a variety of lenses. 

We hope that you enjoy and participate in the discussion.

New Event! The Court of Arbitration for Sport at the European Court of Human Rights - Prof. Helen Keller - 26 May - 16:00

On Wednesday 26 May 2021 from 16.00-17.00 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret (University of Lausanne), is organising its fifth Zoom In webinar on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) from the perspective of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

We have the pleasure to be joined by Prof. Helen Keller, former Judge at the ECtHR and a prominent dissenter to the majority’s ruling in the Mutu and Pechstein case.

The ECtHR decision in the Mutu and Pechstein case rendered on 2 October 2018 is widely seen as one of the most important European sports law rulings. It was also the first decision of the Strasbourg court dealing with a case in which the CAS had issued an award. The applicants, Adrian Mutu and Claudia Pechstein, were both challenging the compatibility of CAS proceedings with the procedural rights enshrined in Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The court famously declined to conclude that the CAS lacked independence or impartiality, but did find that, insofar as Claudia Pechstein was concerned, she was forced to undergo CAS arbitration and, therefore, that CAS proceedings had to fully comply with the procedural rights guaranteed in the ECHR. In particular, the court held that the refusal by CAS to hold a public hearing, in spite of Claudia Pechstein’s express request, was contrary to Article 6(1) ECHR. Beyond this case, as highlighted by the recent decision of Caster Semenya to submit an application to the ECtHR, the decision opens the way for a more systematic intervention of the Strasbourg court in assessing the human rights compatibility of CAS awards and more broadly of the transnational sports regulations imposed by international sports governing bodies.

Prof. Helen Keller will discuss with us the implications of the ECtHR’s Mutu and Pechstein decision and the potential for future interventions by the court in the realm of the lex sportiva.

The webinar will take the form of an interview followed by a short Q&A open to the digital public. 

Please note the discussion will NOT be recorded and posted on our Youtube channel. 

Register HERE!


Never let a good fiasco go to waste: why and how the governance of European football should be reformed after the demise of the ‘SuperLeague’ - By Stephen Weatherill

Editor’s note: Stephen Weatherill is the Jacques Delors Professor of European Law at Oxford University. He also serves as Deputy Director for European Law in the Institute of European and Comparative Law, and is a Fellow of Somerville College. This blog appeared first on eulawanalysis.blogspot.com and is reproduced here with the agreement of the author. 

 


The crumbling of the ‘SuperLeague’ is a source of joy to many football fans, but the very fact that such an idea could be advanced reveals something troublingly weak about the internal governance of football in Europe – UEFA’s most of all – and about the inadequacies of legal regulation practised by the EU and/ or by states. This note explains why a SuperLeague is difficult to stop under the current pattern of legal regulation and why accordingly reform is required in order to defend the European model of sport with more muscularity. More...



New Digital Masterclass - Mastering the FIFA Transfer System - 29-30 April

The mercato, or transfer window, is for some the most exciting time in the life of a football fan. During this narrow period each summer and winter (for the Europeans), fantastic football teams are made or taken apart. What is less often known, or grasped is that behind the breaking news of the latest move to or from your favourite club lies a complex web of transnational rules, institutions and practices.

Our new intensive two-day Masterclass aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) to a small group of dedicated legal professionals who have the ambition to advise football clubs, represent players or join football governing bodies. The course combines theoretical insights on FIFA’s regulation of the transfer market with practical know-how of the actual operation of the RSTP distilled by hands-on practitioners.

Download the full Programme and register HERE.


The Team:

  • Dr Antoine Duval is a senior researcher at the Asser Institute and the head of the Asser International Sports Law Centre. He has widely published and lectured on transnational sports law, sports arbitration and the interaction between EU law and sport. He is an avid football fan and football player and looks forward to walking you through the intricacies of the FIFA transfer system.

  • Carol Couse is a Partner in the sports team at Mills & Reeve LLP , with extensive in-house and in private practice experience of dealing with sports regulatory matters, whether contentious or non-contentious.  She has advised on many multi million pound international football transfer agreements, playing contracts and image rights agreements on behalf clubs, players and agents.
  • Jacques Blondin is an Italian lawyer, who joined FIFA inundefined 2015, working for the Disciplinary Department. In 2019, he was appointed Head of FIFA TMS (now called FIFA Regulatory Enforcement) where he is responsible, among other things, for ensuring compliance in international transfers within the FIFA Transfer Matching System.
  • Oskar van Maren joined FIFA as a Legal Counsel in December 2017, forming part of the Knowledge Management Hub, a department created in September 2020. Previously, he worked for FIFA’s Players' Status Department. Between April 2014 and March 2017, he worked as a Junior Researcher at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut. He holds an LL.M in European law from Leiden University (The Netherlands).
  • Rhys Lenarduzzi is currently a research intern at the Asser International Sports Law Centre, where he focuses in particular on the transnational regulation of football. Prior to this, he acquired over 5 years of experience as a sports agent and consultant, at times representing over 50 professional athletes around the world from various sports, though predominantly football.




(A)Political Games? Ubiquitous Nationalism and the IOC’s Hypocrisy

Editor’s note: Thomas Terraz is a L.LM. candidate in the European Law programme at Utrecht University and a former intern of the Asser International Sports Law Centre

 

1.     Sport Nationalism is Politics

Despite all efforts, the Olympic Games has been and will be immersed in politics. Attempts to shield the Games from social and political realities are almost sure to miss their mark and potentially risk being disproportionate. Moreover, history has laid bare the shortcomings of the attempts to create a sanitized and impenetrable bubble around the Games. The first blog of this series examined the idea of the Games as a sanitized space and dived into the history of political neutrality within the Olympic Movement to unravel the irony that while the IOC aims to keep the Olympic Games ‘clean’ of any politics within its ‘sacred enclosure’, the IOC and the Games itself are largely enveloped in politics. Politics seep into the cracks of this ‘sanitized’ space through: (1) public protests (and their suppression by authoritarian regimes hosting the Games), (2) athletes who use their public image to take a political stand, (3) the IOC who takes decisions on recognizing national Olympic Committees (NOCs) and awarding the Games to countries,[1] and (4) states that use the Games for geo-political posturing.[2] With this background in mind, the aim now is to illustrate the disparity between the IOC’s stance on political neutrality when it concerns athlete protest versus sport nationalism, which also is a form of politics.

As was mentioned in part one of this series, the very first explicit mention of politics in the Olympic Charter was in its 1946 version and aimed to combat ‘the nationalization of sports for political aims’ by preventing ‘a national exultation of success achieved rather than the realization of the common and harmonious objective which is the essential Olympic law’ (emphasis added). This sentiment was further echoed some years later by Avery Brundage (IOC President (1952-1972)) when he declared: ‘The Games are not, and must not become, a contest between nations, which would be entirely contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Movement and would surely lead to disaster’.[3] Regardless of this vision to prevent sport nationalism engulfing the Games and its codification in the Olympic Charter, the current reality paints quite a different picture. One simply has to look at the mass obsession with medal tables during the Olympic Games and its amplification not only by the media but even by members of the Olympic Movement.[4] This is further exacerbated when the achievements of athletes are used for domestic political gain[5] or when they are used to glorify a nation’s prowess on the global stage or to stir nationalism within a populace[6]. Sport nationalism is politics. Arguably, even the worship of national imagery during the Games from the opening ceremony to the medal ceremonies cannot be depoliticized.[7] In many ways, the IOC has turned a blind eye to the politics rooted in these expressions of sport nationalism and instead has focused its energy to sterilize its Olympic spaces and stifle political expression from athletes. One of the ways the IOC has ignored sport nationalism is through its tacit acceptance of medal tables although they are expressly banned by the Olympic Charter.

At this point, the rules restricting athletes’ political protest and those concerning sport nationalism, particularly in terms of medal tables, will be scrutinized in order to highlight the enforcement gap between the two. More...


“Sport Sex” before the European Court of Human Rights - Caster Semenya v. Switzerland - By Michele Krech

Editor's note: Michele Krech is a JSD Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow at NYU School of Law. She was retained as a consultant by counsel for Caster Semenya in the proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport discussed above. She also contributed to two reports mentioned in this blog post: the Report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,  Intersection of race and gender discrimination in sport (June 2020); and the Human Rights Watch Report, “They’re Chasing Us Away from Sport”: Human Rights Violations in Sex Testing of Elite Women Athletes (December 2020).

This blog was first published by the Völkerrechtsblog and is republished here with authorization. Michele Krech will be joining our next Zoom In webinar on 31 March to discuss the next steps in the Caster Semenya case.



Sport is the field par excellence in which discrimination
against intersex people has been made most visible.

Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe
Issue Paper: Human rights and intersex people (2015)


Olympic and world champion athlete Caster Semenya is asking the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to make sure all women athletes are “allowed to run free, for once and for all”. Semenya brings her application against Switzerland, which has allowed a private sport association and a private sport court to decide – with only the most minimal appellate review by a national judicial authority – what it takes for women, legally and socially identified as such all their lives, to count as women in the context of athletics. I consider how Semenya’s application might bring human rights, sex, and sport into conversation in ways not yet seen in a judicial forum. More...







Asser International Sports Law Blog | The UCI Report: The new dawn of professional cycling?

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 UCI Report: The new dawn of professional cycling?

The world of professional cycling and doping have been closely intertwined for many years. Cycling’s International governing Body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), is currently trying to clean up the image of the sport and strengthen its credibility. In order to achieve this goal, in January 2014 the UCI established the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) “to conduct a wide ranging independent investigation into the causes of the pattern of doping that developed within cycling and allegations which implicate the UCI and other governing bodies and officials over ineffective investigation of such doping practices.”[1] The final report was submitted to the UCI President on 26 February 2015 and published on the UCI website on 9 March 2015. The report outlines the history of the relationship between cycling and doping throughout the years. Furthermore, it scrutinizes the role of the UCI during the years in which doping usage was at its maximum and addresses the allegations made against the UCI, including allegations of corruption, bad governance, as well as failure to apply or enforce its own anti-doping rules. Finally, the report turns to the state of doping in cycling today, before listing some of the key practical recommendations.[2]

Since the day of publication, articles and commentaries (here and here) on the report have been burgeoning and many of the stakeholders have expressed their views (here and here). However, given the fact that the report is over 200 pages long, commentators could only focus on a limited number of aspects of the report, or only take into account the position of a few stakeholders. In the following two blogs we will try to give a comprehensive overview of the report in a synthetic fashion.

This first blogpost will focus on the relevant findings and recommendations of the report. In continuation, a second blogpost will address the reforms engaged by the UCI and other long and short term consequences the report could have on professional cycling. Will the recommendations lead to a different governing structure within the UCI, or will the report fundamentally change the way the UCI and other sport governing bodies deal with the doping problem? 


Relevant findings

Different forms of doping have been around since the earliest days of cycling (1890’s), but it was the introduction of Erythropoietin, or EPO, in the professional peloton that brought the problem of doping to new levels. Taking it enabled an athlete to gain a significant competitive advantage that could range between 10 and 15%.By using EPO, a rider is able to increase the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity, to stimulate muscle growth and aid muscle recovery.[3] However, the use of EPO thickens the blood, and race dehydration concentrates the blood further, which can cause clotting, stroke or heart failure.[4] In fact, there is widespread suspicion that EPO caused the deaths of up to 20 cyclists between 1987 and 1990. Even though cyclists started using forms of EPO as far back as the 1980’s, it was not until 2001 that a reliable detection test for EPO was developed. This meant that professional cyclists were able to use EPO for over a decade with very little chance of getting caught. The exact percentage of professional cyclist using EPO remains unknown, but it is very likely that this figure was well above 50%. “Doping became the norm in the peloton, not only to increase performance but also just to keep up with the rest of the peloton”.[5]

One of the main findings of the report is the revelation that the UCI’s past policy regarding anti-doping was primarily aimed at protecting the health and safety of the riders and not trying to curtail the use of doping all together from (professional) cycling. This is especially evident from the way it chose to combat EPO. In 1997, UCI introduced the “No Start Rule”. Under the rule, the UCI carried out blood tests before and during competition and any rider with a haematocrit reading higher than 50% (when natural levels are normally between 40 and 45%) was deemed unfit for competition and prevented from competing for 15 days from the date of the test.[6] The UCI stated that the purpose of this rule was to protect riders’ health and safety and to prevent further deaths from EPO. It was not an anti-doping rule, but a health and safety measure. However, the problem with this measure is that it allowed the use of EPO, and therefore doping, to a certain extent. Furthermore, given that the advantage gained from EPO was so significant, the riders were in fact obliged to use EPO simply to keep up, let alone to win.

In order to understand the UCI’s position in this matter, the report explains in full detail the facts that led up to this situation. In doing so, it also addressed the questions whether UCI officials directly contributed to the development of a culture of doping in cycling.[7] It has to be borne in mind that as an umbrella sporting organisation, the UCI was for many years an institution with a minimal structure and no real power. When Hein Verbruggen became president of the UCI in 1991, the UCI had less than 15 employees and very little revenue. The UCI itself does not organise the major cycling event such as the Tour de France. In fact, the organisation that organises the Tour (Amaury Sport Organization) enjoys a dominant position and is economically much more powerful than UCI.[8]

With the inclusion of professional cycling in the Olympic games of 1996, revenue redistributed by the IOC became substantial, while the proceeds derived from TV rights increased dramatically for the UCI. To further boost its revenues, the UCI needed a “big star” to attract broadcasters and sponsors.[9] Lance Armstrong, being outspoken, charismatic and, above all, a cancer survivor, was exactly the type of “big star” it was looking for. The timing of Armstrong’s comeback in professional cycling (1998/99) could not have been better, since the image of cycling and its main event, the Tour de France, were at an all-time low after the “Festina affair” of 1998.[10]

The report shows well the UCI’s conflict of interest during the Tour de France of 1999: On the one hand, it wanted to eliminate doping from the sport, especially after the “Festina affair” a year earlier; on the other hand, it wanted to make the sport more appealing to the public and for that it required the presence and victory of a hero: Lance Armstrong. The practical meaning of this conflict of interest became apparent during that same Tour. Armstrong was tested positive four times for corticosteroids that was forbidden under the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.[11] Armstrong justified the positive tests by submitting a medical certificate that was provided after the tests. According to the UCI’s own rules, the medical certificates should have been handed in prior to the tests. Had the UCI applied its rules, Armstrong would have received a sanction for violating anti-doping rules, which would have resulted in him not being allowed to win the Tour of 1999, the first of his seven Tour victories. [12]  

Apart from UCI decisions concerning Armstrong, it becomes evident from the report that the UCI took a number of controversial decisions regarding doping violations which, in hindsight, should have been dealt with differently. However, to answer the question why the UCI made these decisions, it is necessary to understand how the UCI made these decisions. As mentioned above, it is clear that the conflict of interest regarding the UCI’s objectives was a prime factor in the choices made. However, it was also the UCI’s governing structure that allowed for such decisions, especially the way the UCI dealt with its anti-doping policy.

In 1992, the UCI set up an Anti-Doping Commission (ADC). The ADC was headed originally by a lawyer, Werner Goehner. He was succeeded by the ADC’s first Vice-president, Lon Schattenberg, an occupational therapist, in 2003. It has been reported that Schattenberg de facto ran the ADC from the start. Furthermore, even though the ADC was composed of three members in total, it was Schattenberg who effectively ran the whole Commission. The conflict of interest is further substantiated in the report when it stresses that the focus of Schattenberg’s work was on health concerns rather than on disciplinary aspects of doping. His view was that trying to catch the doped cyclists amounted to a witch hunt.[13] In other words, between 1992 and 2006, most, if not all, of the Anti-Doping Commission’s decisions were taken by one man whose primary aim was to protect the riders’ health rather than catching and sanctioning the doped cyclists.

Similarly, the report emphasised the prime role of the UCI President Hein Verbruggen (1991-2005) as regards the UCI’s governance structure. Due to the passive nature of the large majority of the UCI’s governing bodies, the president had a wide range of executive powers. In the CIRC’s view this led to serious problems of governance and deficiencies in internal control processes. By way of example, Verbruggen, with the agreement of the majority of his colleagues on the Management Committee, chose his successor (Pat McQuaid) and managed to secure his election.[14] Moreover, even though Schattenberg’s ADC was formally considered independent, Hein Verbruggen was not only informed of all relevant anti-doping matters, he also interfered in the decision-making of the anti-doping Commission. As is stated in the KPMG report on UCI Governance and Independence Assessment (2013), “(t)he President has taken many decisions alone or based on external advice during critical times…Critically important matters…are taken solely by the President.”[15] 

The report further notes that Mr. Verbruggen was constantly in conflict with WADA and its leadership. The importance of these conflicts when answering the question how the UCI made its decisions should not be underestimated. The first WADA Code, implemented in 2004, included the standard sanction of two years of ineligibility in case of a first Anti-Doping violation. Nonetheless, the UCI (read: Verbruggen) opposed the standard sanction and lobbied for much lower sanctions. It should be noted that, as the “new kid on the block”, the role and power of WADA in relation to sports federations in general and the UCI in particular was unclear. According to the UCI, WADA’s function was to assist sports federations, but not to interfere with internal matters or criticise their governance or anti-doping policy. Any interference or criticism by WADA in relation to UCI’s anti-doping policy was perceived by the UCI leadership as completely unacceptable and seemed to have been interpreted as a personal attack.[16]  


Conclusion

The goal of this report was to investigate the causes of the pattern of doping that developed within professional cycling over the last decades, especially taking into account the role of the UCI, and to recommend better ways of tackling doping problems in the future.

According to the report, the UCI’s role in the widespread use of doping in cycling was fundamental in several ways. Firstly, during the heydays of EPO the UCI was primarily focused on protecting the health and safety of the riders, rather than trying to eliminate the use EPO in the peloton. Secondly, the UCI’s objective of forming professional cycling into a global money-making sport had an impact on enforcing anti-doping rules. This became especially evident after Lance Armstrong’s comeback. Even though Armstrong took forbidden substances during the Tour de France of 1999, the UCI decided not to sanction him. Armstrong was the “big star” the UCI needed to further increase revenues, and a sanction would have been counterproductive in this regard. A third major element that allowed for doping to flourish was the UCI’s governing structure. The executive dominance of the UCI President Hein Verbruggen caused great deficiencies in the UCI’s internal control process. Moreover, the lack of collaboration with WADA was instrumental in delaying the full implementation of the WADA Code. 

The Report is in interesting plunge in the world of cycling at the turn of the century. It highlights the systematic failure of sports organisation to truly engage in the fight against doping. Indeed, both the fundamental objectives and the basic governance structure of the UCI seem to have run counter any attempt to deal efficiently with the recourse to doping of the cycling stars. This is a potent lesson, for doping seems to be as much a product of the institutional and economical system in place in a particular sport as of the malign intentions of the athletes. 

Having deciphered the main reasons that caused the pattern of doping, the report consequently outlined a set of recommendations. An analysis of these recommendation as well as the reforms the UCI has already undertaken shall be discussed in a second blog.



[1] CIRC Report to the President of the UCI, page 6

[2] Ibid

[3] CIRC Report to the President of the UCI, page 57

[4] Ibid, page 33

[5] Ibid, page 41

[6] Ibid, page 35-36, a haematocrit reading measures the percentage of red blood cells in blood. As EPO stimulates the production of red blood cells, an elevated haematocrit reading above 50% is “a strong indication of EPO use”.

[7] Ibid, page 90

[8] Ibid, page 91

[9] Ibid, page 91-92

[10] The affair concerned a large haul of doping products found in a car of the Festina cycling team just before the start of the Tour de France of 1998. The investigation revealed systematic doping, and suspicion was raised that there may have been a widespread network of doping involving many teams of the Tour de France.

[11] These rules state that “the use of corticosteroids is prohibited, except when used for topical application (auricular, opthmalogical or dermatological) inhalations (asthma and allergic rhinitis) and local or intra-articular injections. Such forms of utilisations can be proved with a medical prescription”.

[12] CIRC Report to the President of the UCI, page 171-173

[13] Ibid, pages 98-100

[14] Ibid, page 97

[15] Ibid, pages 104-105

[16] Ibid, page 108

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