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

Blog Symposium: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment. By Marjolaine Viret and Emily Wisnosky

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

Editor's Note
Marjolaine Viret: An attorney-at-law at the Geneva bar, specialising in sports and health law. Her doctoral work in anti-doping was awarded a summa cum laude by the University of Fribourg in early 2015. She gained significant experience in sports arbitration as a senior associate in one of Switzerland’s leading law firms, advising clients, including major sports federations, on all aspects of anti-doping. She also holds positions within committees in sports organisations and has been involved in a variety of roles in the implementation of the 2015 WADC. Her book “Evidence in Anti-Doping at the Intersection of Science & Law” is scheduled for publication in 2015.

Emily Wisnosky: An attorney-at-law admitted to the California bar, she currently participates in the WADC 2015 Commentary research project as a doctoral researcher. She also holds an LLM from the University of Geneva in International Dispute Settlement, with a focus on sports arbitration. Before studying law, she worked as a civil engineer. More...

Blog Symposium: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies. By Herman Ram

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
Day 2: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

Editor's note
Herman Ram is the Chief Executive Officer of the Anti-Doping Authority the Netherlands, which is the National Anti-Doping Organization of the country. He has held this position since 2006. After working twelve years as a librarian, Herman Ram started his career in sport management in 1992, when he became Secretary general of the Royal Netherlands Chess Federation. In 1994, he moved on to the same position at the Netherlands Badminton Federation. He was founder and first secretary of the Foundation for the Promotion of Elite Badminton that was instrumental in the advancement of Dutch badminton. In 2000 he was appointed Secretary general of the Netherlands Ski Federation, where he focused, among other things, on the organization of large snowsports events in the Netherlands. Since his appointment as CEO of the Anti-Doping Authority, he has developed a special interest in legal, ethical and managerial aspects of anti-doping policies, on which he has delivered numerous presentations and lectures. On top of that, he acts as Spokesperson for the Doping Authority. Herman Ram holds two Master’s degrees, in Law and in Sport Management. More...

Blog Symposium: The new WADA Code 2015 - Introduction

Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
Day 2: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

On 1 January, a new version of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC or Code) entered into force. This blog symposium aims at taking stock of this development and at offering a preliminary analysis of the key legal changes introduced. The present blog will put the WADC into a more general historical and political context. It aims to briefly retrace the emergence of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its Code. It will also reconstruct the legislative process that led to the adoption of the WADC 2015 and introduce the various contributions to the blog symposium.More...

To pay or not to pay? That is the question. The case of O’Bannon v. NCAA and the struggle of student athletes in the US. By Zlatka Koleva

Editor's note
Zlatka Koleva is a graduate from the Erasmus University Rotterdam and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

The decision on appeal in the case of O’Bannon v. NCAA seems, at first sight, to deliver answers right on time regarding the unpaid use of names, images and likenesses (NILs) of amateur college athletes, which has been an ongoing debate in the US after last year’s district court decision that amateur players in the college games deserve to receive compensation for their NILs.[1] The ongoing struggle for compensation in exchange for NILs used in TV broadcasts and video games in the US has reached a turning point and many have waited impatiently for the final say of the Court of Appeal for the 9th circuit. The court’s ruling on appeal for the 9th circuit, however, raises more legitimate concerns for amateur sports in general than it offers consolation to unprofessional college sportsmen. While the appellate court agreed with the district court that NCAA should provide scholarships amounting to the full cost of college attendance to student athletes, the former rejected deferred payment to students of up to 5,000 dollars for NILs rights. The conclusions reached in the case relate to the central antitrust concerns raised by NCAA, namely the preservation of consumer demand for amateur sports and how these interests can be best protected under antitrust law. More...

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.


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.


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...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Towards a Suitable Policy Framework for Cricket Betting in India - By Deeksha Malik

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

Towards a Suitable Policy Framework for Cricket Betting in India - By Deeksha Malik

Editor's note: Deeksha Malik is a final-year student at National Law Institute University, India. Her main interest areas are corporate law, arbitration, and sports law. She can be reached at

In 2015, while interrogating cricketer Sreesanth and others accused in the IPL match-fixing case, Justice Neena Bansal, sitting as Additional Sessions Judge, made the following observations as regards betting on cricket matches.

“Cricket as a game of skill requires hand-eye-coordination for throwing, catching and hitting. It requires microscopic levels of precision and mental alertness for batsmen to find gaps or for bowlers to produce variety of styles of deliveries’ (medium pace, fast, inswing, outswing, offspin, legspin, googly). The sport requires strategic masterminds that can select the most efficient fielding positions for piling pressure on the batsmen. Based on above description, cricket cannot be described anything, but as a game of skill.”

The debate on the issue of betting in sports has since resurfaced and gained the attention of sportspersons, media, sports bodies, policymakers, and the general public. In April 2017, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar agreed to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an order directing the government to come up with an appropriate framework for regulating betting in sports. The arguments put forth in the PIL present various dimensions. One of these pertains to economic considerations, a submission that regulated betting would be able to generate annual revenue of Rs. 12,000 crores by bringing the earnings therefrom within the tax net. As for policy considerations, it was submitted that a proper regulation in this area would enable the government to distinguish harmless betting from activities that impair the integrity of the game such as match-fixing. Further, betting on cricket matches largely depends on the skill of the concerned players, thereby distinguishing it from pure chance-based activities.

The issue of sports betting witnesses a divided opinion till this day. This is understandable, for both sides to the issue have equally pressing arguments. Aside from its regulation being a daunting task for authorities, sports betting is susceptible to corruption and other unscrupulous activities. At the same time, it is argued that it would be better for both the game and the economy if the same is legalised.


It is feared by some that the consequences of recognition and legalisation of betting could be negative, considering what happened in Australia. Australia legalised online betting in 2001, and by 2009, it found itself in a situation where betting took over the sporting landscape in a big way. The impact was clearly visible; betting was marketed extensively in public places, attracting many young potential punters. Some found the trend disturbing, for sports fans were more concerned about their personal gains than about the sport itself. It is estimated that around 500,000 Australians are on the verge of becoming “problem gamblers.”

There has been an increasing support for the other side of the debate that argues for recognition of betting as a legal activity. It is argued that criminalising betting does not prevent its happening; it merely drives the activity underground where it continues to thrive. Add to it the substantial revenues that government would be able to obtain therefrom. In fact, the Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Reforms in Cricket, also called the Lodha Committee Report, submitted that given the worldwide legal sports betting market which is worth over $400 billion, it will be in the best interest of the economy if betting is given legal recognition.


In the USA, federal law has taken a tough stand against betting and gambling. The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) makes it unlawful for a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly, on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate. The provision prima facie makes no distinction between betting and gambling, and it is, therefore, irrelevant for the purpose of establishing an offence under this provision whether the activity in question involves skill or not.

On the other hand, one may refer to the position in the UK, where there has been a well-developed betting market with appropriate measures to ensure that the system is not abused. The governing organisation in this regard is the UK Gambling Commission, initially set up under the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act which works in partnership with all the sporting bodies which, in turn, frame their own bye-laws to regulate betting.[1] Apart from licensing requirements, the framework provides for an information-sharing system, whereby bookies are required to report any suspicious betting activity within their knowledge to the Gambling Commission.[2] The example of the UK shows how through appropriate safeguards and implementation policy that involves various stakeholders such as the sports bodies and the booking companies, sports betting could be effectively regulated, bringing, at the same time, significant economic advantage. It does not come as a surprise that a majority of Americans have advocated for a UK-based model.

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States began dealing with the issue in the case of Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. The State of New Jersey seeks to get the PASPA annulled, which, in turn, would facilitate state-sponsored sports betting. It is being submitted that the federal government through the aforesaid statute is violating the anti-commandeering principle of the Tenth Amendment, according to which states cannot be mandated to carry federal acts into effect. The outcome of the case would certainly have an impact on the debate, one way or the other.


In India, the power to legislate on betting and gambling is conferred on states, since these subjects are enlisted in the State List. Nevertheless, the pre-independence legislation, namely the 1867 Public Gambling Act (Act), is still valid today, though some states have enacted their own laws pertaining to betting and gambling. Section 12 of this Act provides that it does not apply to a ‘game of skill.’ The legislation, therefore, makes a distinction between a ‘game of chance’ and a ‘game of skill.’ The term ‘game of chance’ has been explained in the case of Rex v. Fortier[3] as a game “determined entirely or in part by lot or mere luck, and in which judgment, practice, skill or adroitness has honestly no office at all or is thwarted by chance.” It has further been held in the case of State v. Gupton that any athletic game or sport is not a game of chance and instead depends on a number of factors such as skill, ability, form and practice of the participants.

At this juncture, reference must be made to the case of KR Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, wherein it was held by the Supreme Court of India that horse racing, foot racing, boat racing, football and baseball are all games of skill. Betting on, say, a horse race entails use of evaluative skills in order to assess several factors such as speed and stamina of the horse, performance of the jockey, and the like. Similarly, the Supreme Court in State of Andhra Pradesh v. K Satyanarayana observed that rummy is not like a three-card game which is based substantially on chance. There is considerable amount of skill involved in memorising the cards, or in holding and discharging them, in a rummy game. The uncertainty involved in shuffling and distribution of the cards does not alter the character of the game to one based on chance.

Based on these judgments, it is reasonable to infer that betting in cricket, too, is an activity involving sufficient skill and is not based merely on chance. A person who studies the form and performance of a player, the conditions of play and the like could predict the outcome of a game with a reasonable accuracy. The mere uncertainty of the outcome should not come in the way of understanding sports betting as an activity based on skill. Considering this important factor, the government should proceed to develop an appropriate framework to regulate betting. 


The International Cricket Council, too, has suggested that India should come up with a suitable policy framework to regulate betting.[4] Such a framework would keep a check on individuals and further help detect and prevent corrupt activities. The above-mentioned Lodha Committee Report has strongly recommended legalising cricket betting in India. The suggestion is based on the premise that while match-fixing interferes with the integrity of the game itself and is unacceptable, betting is a “general malaise” indulged by different sections of the society and is capable of being regulated. Therefore, betting should not be equated with unscrupulous activities such as match-fixing.

Having been so distinguished, a regulation along the lines of the UK model could be put in place to establish regulatory watchdogs tasked with monitoring betting houses and persons entering into betting transactions. Those placing bets could be brought within a licensing system wherein their identification and other details are recorded. This could be supplemented by an information-sharing mechanism whereby a database of undesirable entities such as bookies and fixers would be shared with players so that they do not remain in the dark with respect to suspicious activities. Importantly, players, match officials and administrators should be kept out of such regulated betting, and they should continue to be bound by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and IPL rules. It is important to note here that the BCCI Anti-Corruption Code prohibits participants from soliciting, authorising, placing, accepting, laying, or otherwise entering into any bet with any person in relation to the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any match or event. The Code further makes it an offence to ensure “the occurrence of a particular incident in a match or event, which occurrence is to the participant’s knowledge the subject of a bet and for which he/she expects to receive or has received any reward.” As can be seen from the provisions, the liability is imposed specifically on the participant. This is in line with the opinion of the Lodha Committee, which has recommended that if betting were to be legalised, the players should nevertheless be barred from indulging in the activity so as to prevent any apprehension concerning their integrity. It is submitted that bringing these reforms in the current uncertain and highly ambiguous regime would address several surrounding issues, provided all the stakeholders work in tandem.

Lesson could be learnt from the state of Nagaland, which recently enacted a law, namely the 2016 Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act. The said legislation defines “games of skill” as including “all such games where there is a preponderance of skill over chance, including where the skill relates to strategising the manner of placing wagers or placing bets, or where the skill lies in team selection or selection of virtual stocks based on analyses, or where the skill relates to the manner in which the moves are made, whether through deployment of physical or mental skill and acumen.” Besides providing such an inclusive definition, the Act sets out a schedule enlisting certain activities that shall be regarded as games of skill, such as poker, rummy and virtual games of cricket and football. All such games shall be regulated by way of issuance of a license to persons or entities based in India. Upon receiving the license, such a person or entity is eligible to earn revenue from games of skill, whether by way of advertising, obtaining a share of winnings or charging a fee for membership.

Some stakeholders are advocating for a uniform legislation on betting that would ensure that the legal position on betting remains the same across all the states. In July 2017, the All India Gaming Federation along with an advisory panel presented a white paper to Law Commissioner BS Chauhan, recommending a central legislation regulating online skill gaming, and that sports betting in general and cricket betting in particular be recognised as a game of skill. Such a legislation could introduce a system of checks and balances along the lines of that existing in the UK, for instance. A proposal has also been moved from the Central Information Commission in the case of Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. PIO, recommending the Government of India to consider moving the subject of sports from the State List in the Constitution of India to the Concurrent List so as to ensure a uniform policy regulating sports bodies and national sports federations such as the BCCI.


The international discourse on the issue of sports betting shows just how inadequate the Indian legal regime is to cater to the same. Suggestions have been pouring in from all quarters as to how, upon being legalized, cricket betting could be regulated. These suggestions, along with international best practices concerning ethics and betting, should be taken into account by the legislature and the executive to bring in an appropriate framework to address cricket betting. This, of course, requires the active participation of all the stakeholders, with the BCCI leading the way. 

[1] Ali Qtaishat and Ashish Kumar, ‘Surveying the Legality Issues and Current Developments’ (2013) 20 JL Policy and & Globalization 40, 42.

[2] See Gambling Act 2005 s 88.

[3] Rex v. Fortier 13 Que. KB 308.

[4] Rohini Mahyera, ‘Saving Cricket: A Proposal for the Legalization of Gambling in India to Regulate Corrupt Betting Practices in Cricket’ (2012) 26 Emory Int'l L. Rev.

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