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

12th round of Caster Semenya’s legal fight: too close to call? - By Jeremy Abel

Editor's note: Jeremy Abel is a recent graduate of the LL.M in International Business Law and Sports of the University of Lausanne.


1.     Introduction

The famous South African athlete Caster Semenya is in the last lap of her long legal battle for her right to run without changing the natural testosterone in her body. After losing her cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Swiss Federal Tribunal, she filed an application before the European Court of Human Rights (Court). In the meantime, the Court has released a summary of her complaint and a series of questions addressed to the parties of the case.

As is well known, she is challenging the World Athletics’ Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Regulations) defining the conditions under which female and intersex athletes with certain types of differences of sex development (DSDs) can compete in international athletics events. Despite the Regulations emanating from World Athletics, the last round of her legal battle is against a new opponent: Switzerland.

The purpose of this article is to revisit the Semenya case from a European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) perspective while considering certain excellent points made by previous contributors (see here, here and here) to this blog. Therefore, the blog will follow the basic structure of an ECHR case. The following issues raised by Semenya shall be analysed: the applicability of the ECHR, Semenya’s right to private life (Article 8 ECHR) and to non discrimination (Article 14 ECHR), as well as the proportionality of the Regulations. More...

[Conference] Towards a European Social Charter for Sport Events - 1 December - 13:00-17:00 - Asser Institute

Sport events, especially when they are of a global scale, have been facing more and more questions about their impact on local communities, the environment, and human rights. 

It has become clear that their social legitimacy is not a given, but must be earned by showing that sport events can positively contribute to society. During this half-day conference, we will debate the proposal of a European Social Charter for Sport Events in order to achieve this goal. 

In January 2021, a consortium of eight partners launched a three-year project, supported by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ scheme, aimed at devising a European Social Charter for Sport Events (ESCSE). The project ambitions to develop a Charter which will contribute to ensuring that sport events taking place in the European Union are socially beneficial to the local communities concerned and, more generally, to those affected by them. The project is directly inspired by the decision of the Paris 2024 bid to commit to a social charter enforced throughout the preparation and the course of the 2024 Olympics.

This first public event in the framework of the ESCSE project, will be introducing the project to a wider public. During the event we will review the current state of the implementation of the Paris 2024 Social Charter, discuss the expectations of stakeholders and academics for a European Social Charter and present for feedback the first draft of the ESCSE (and its implementing guidelines) developed by the project members. It will be a participatory event; we welcome input from the participants.

The Asser International Sports Law Centre, powered by the Asser Institute, is contributing to the project through the drafting of a background study, which we will introduce during the conference.

Please note that we can provide some financial support (up to 100 euros)  towards travel and/or accommodation costs for a limited number of participants coming from other EU Member States or the UK. To apply for this financial support please reach out to  `

Register HERE



New Event! Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: Time for a Changing of the Guard? - Zoom In Webinar - 14 October - 4pm

On Thursday 14 October 2021 from 16.00-17.30 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret (University of Lausanne), will be launching the second season of the Zoom-In webinar series, with a first episode on Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: Time for a Changing of the Guard?

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is a well-known mainstay of global sport. It has the exclusive competence over challenges against decisions taken by most international sports governing bodies and its jurisprudence covers a wide range of issues (doping, corruption, match-fixing, financial fair play, transfer or selection disputes) including disciplinary sanctions and governance disputes. In recent years, the CAS has rendered numerous awards which triggered world-wide public interest, such as in the Semenya v World Athletics case or the case between WADA and RUSADA resulting from the Russian doping scandal (we discussed both cases in previous Zoom-In discussion available here and here). In short, the CAS has tremendous influence on the shape of global sport and its governance.

However, as we will discuss during this webinar, recent work has shown that the arbitrators active at the CAS are hardly reflective of the diversity of people its decisions ultimately affect. This in our view warrants raising the question of the (urgent) need to change the (arbitral) guard at the CAS. To address these issues with us, we have invited two speakers who have played an instrumental role in putting numbers on impressions widely shared by those in contact with the CAS: Prof. Johan Lindholm (Umea University) and attorney-at-law Lisa Lazarus (Morgan Sports Law). Johan recently published a ground-breaking monograph on The Court of Arbitration for Sport and Its Jurisprudence in which he applies empirical and quantitative methods to analyse the work of the CAS. This included studying the sociological characteristics of CAS arbitrators. Lisa and her colleagues at Morgan Sports Law very recently released a blog post on Arbitrator Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which reveals a stunning lack of diversity (based on their calculations, 4,5% of appointed CAS arbitrators are female and 0,2% are black) at the institution ruling over global sport.

Guest speakers:


Register for free HERE.

Zoom In webinar series

In December 2020, The Asser International Sports Law Centre in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret launched a new series of zoom webinars on transnational sports law: Zoom In. You can watch the video recordings of our past Zoom In webinars on the Asser Institute’s Youtube Channel.

Investment in Football as a Means to a Particular End – Part 2: The Multiple Layers of Multi-Club Ownership Regulation in Football - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor's note: Rhys was an intern at the T.M.C. Asser Institute. He now advises on investments and Notre acquisitions in sport (mainly football) via Lovelle Street Advisory. Following a career as a professional athlete, Rhys has spent much of his professional life as an international sports agent, predominantly operating in football. Rhys has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and a Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) from the University of Dame, Sydney, Australia. He is currently completing an LL.M at the University of Zurich in International Business Law / International Sports Law.

Having looked at the different types of investors in football in part one of this two-part blog series, “A non-exhaustive Typology”, it is fitting to now consider the regulations that apply to investors who seek to build a portfolio of football clubs.

One way to measure the momentum of a particular practice and how serious it ought to be taken, might be when that practice earns its own initialism. Multi-club ownership or MCO as it is increasingly known today, is the name given to those entities that have an ownership stake in multiple clubs. Within the little research and writing that has been undertaken on the topic, some authors submit that investors with minority stakes in multiple clubs ought not to be captured by the MCO definition.  This position appears problematic given some of the regulations draw the line at influence rather than stake.

There are now approximately 50 MCO’s across the football world that own approximately 150 clubs.[1] Given the way MCO is trending, one might consider it important that the regulations keep up with the developing MCO practice, so as to ensure the integrity of football competitions, and to regulate any other potentially questionable benefit an MCO might derive that would be contrary to football’s best interests.

In this blog, I focus on the variety of ways (and levels at which) this practice is being regulated.  I will move through the football pyramid from member associations (MA’s) to FIFA, laying the foundations to support a proposition that FIFA and only FIFA is positioned to regulate MCO. More...

New Event! Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and the Right to Free Speech of Athletes - Zoom In Webinar - 14 July - 16:00 (CET)

On Wednesday 14 July 2021 from 16.00-17.30 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret, is organizing a Zoom In webinar on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and the right to free speech of athletes.

As the Tokyo Olympics are drawing closer, the International Olympic Committee just released new Guidelines on the implementation of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. The latter Rule provides that ‘no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’. The latest IOC Guidelines did open up some space for athletes to express their political views, but at the same time continue to ban any manifestation from the Olympic Village or the Podium. In effect, Rule 50 imposes private restrictions on the freedom of expression of athletes in the name of the political neutrality of international sport. This limitation on the rights of athletes is far from uncontroversial and raises intricate questions regarding its legitimacy, proportionality and ultimately compatibility with human rights standards (such as with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

This webinar aims at critically engaging with Rule 50 and its compatibility with the fundamental rights of athletes. We will discuss the content of the latest IOC Guidelines regarding Rule 50, the potential justifications for such a Rule, and the alternatives to its restrictions. To do so, we will be joined by three speakers, Professor Mark James from Manchester Metropolitan University, who has widely published on the Olympic Games and transnational law; Chui Ling Goh, a Doctoral Researcher at Melbourne Law School, who has recently released an (open access) draft of an article on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter; and David Grevemberg, Chief Innovation and Partnerships Officer at the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and former Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). 

Guest speakers:

  • Prof. Mark James (Metropolitan Manchester University)
  • Chui Ling Goh (PhD candidate, University of Melbourne)
  • David Grevemberg (Centre for Sport and Human Rights)


Free Registration HERE

Investment in Football as a Means to a Particular End – Part 1: A non-exhaustive Typology - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor's note: Rhys is currently making research and writing contributions under Dr Antoine Duval at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports Law. Additionally, Rhys is the ‘Head of Advisory’ of Athlon CIF, a global fund and capital advisory firm specialising in the investment in global sports organisations and sports assets.

Rhys has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) from the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. Rhys is an LL.M candidate at the University of Zurich, in International Sports Law. Following a career as a professional athlete, Rhys has spent much of his professional life as an international sports agent, predominantly operating in football.

Rhys is also the host of the podcast “Sportonomic”.


In the following two-part blog series, I will start by outlining a short typology of investors in football in recent years, in order to show the emergence of different varieties of investors who seek to use football as a means to a particular end. I will then in a second blog, explore the regulatory landscape across different countries, with a particular focus on the regulatory approach to multi-club ownership. Before moving forward, I must offer a disclaimer of sorts.  In addition to my research and writing contributions with the Asser Institute, I am the ‘Head of Advisory’ for Athlon CIF, a global fund and capital advisory firm specialising in the investment in global sports organisations and sports assets. I appreciate and hence must flag that I will possess a bias when it comes to investment in football.

It might also be noteworthy to point out that this new wave of investment in sport, is not exclusive to football. I have recently written elsewhere about CVC Capital Partners’ US$300 million investment in Volleyball, and perhaps the message that lingers behind such a deal.  CVC has also shown an interest in rugby and recently acquired a 14.3 per cent stake in the ‘Six Nations Championship’, to the tune of £365 million.  New Zealand’s 26 provincial rugby unions recently voted unanimously in favour of a proposal to sell 12.5 per cent of NZ Rugby’s commercial rights to Silver Lake Partners for NZ$387.5 million.  Consider also the apparent partnership between star footballer’s investment group, Gerard Pique’s Kosmos, and the International Tennis Federation.  Kosmos is further backed by Hiroshi Mikitani’s ecommerce institution, Rakuten, and all involved claim to desire an overhaul of the Davis Cup that will apparently transform it into the ‘World Cup of Tennis’. Grassroots projects, prizemoney for tennis players and extra funding for member nations are other areas the partnership claims to be concerned with. As is the case with all investment plays of this flavour, one can be certain that a return on the capital injection is also of interest.

So, what are we to conclude from the trends of investment in sport and more specifically for this blog series, in football? A typology elucidates that a multiplicity of investors have in recent years identified football as a means to achieve different ends. This blog considers three particular objectives pursued; direct financial return, branding in the case of company investment, or the branding and soft power strategies of nations.More...

WISLaw Blog Symposium - Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter: the wind of changes or a new commercial race - By Rusa Agafonova

Editor's note: Rusa Agafonova is a PhD Candidate at the University of Zurich, Switzerland   

The Olympic Games are the cornerstone event of the Olympic Movement as a socio-cultural phenomenon as well as the engine of its economic model. Having worldwide exposure,[1] the Olympic Games guarantee the International Olympic Committee (IOC) exclusive nine-digit sponsorship deals. The revenue generated by the Games is later redistributed by the IOC down the sports pyramid to the International Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and other participants of the Olympic Movement through a so-called "solidarity mechanism". In other words, the Games constitute a vital source of financing for the Olympic Movement.

Because of the money involved, the IOC is protective when it comes to staging the Olympics. This is notably so with respect to ambush marketing which can have detrimental economic impact for sports governing bodies (SGBs) running mega-events. The IOC's definition of ambush marketing covers any intentional and non-intentional use of intellectual property associated with the Olympic Games as well as the misappropriation of images associated with them without authorisation from the IOC and the organising committee.[2] This definition is broad as are the IOC's anti-ambush rules.More...

WISLaw Blog Symposium - Freedom of Expression in Article 10 of the ECHR and Rule 50 of the IOC Charter: Are these polar opposites? - By Nuray Ekşi

Editor's note: Prof. Dr. Ekşi is a full-time lecturer and chair of Department of Private International Law at Özyeğin University Faculty of Law. Prof. Ekşi is the founder and also editor in chief of the Istanbul Journal of Sports Law which has been in publication since 2019.

While Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) secures the right to freedom of expression, Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter of 17 July 2020 (‘Olympic Charter’) restricts this freedom. Following the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’) relating to sports, national and international sports federations have incorporated human rights-related provisions into their statutes and regulations. They also emphasized respect for human rights. For example, Article 3 of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (‘FIFA’) Statutes, September 2020 edition, provides that “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights”. Likewise, the Fundamental Principles of Olympism which are listed after the Preamble of the of the Olympic Charter 2020 also contains human rights related provisions. Paragraph 4 of Fundamental Principles of Olympism provides that the practice of sport is a human right. Paragraph 6 forbids discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. In addition, the International Olympic Committee (‘IOC’) inserted human rights obligations in the 2024 and 2028 Host City Contract.[1] The IOC Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration even goes further and aspires to promote the ability and opportunity of athletes to practise sport and compete without being subject to discrimination. Fair and equal gender representation, privacy including protection of personal information, freedom of expression, due process including the right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial panel, the right to request a public hearing and the right to an effective remedy are the other human rights and principles stated in the IOC Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration. Despite sports federations’ clear commitment to the protection of human rights, it is arguable that their statutes and regulations contain restrictions on athletes and sports governing bodies exercising their human rights during competitions or in the field. In this regard, particular attention should be given to the right to freedom of expression on which certain restrictions are imposed by the federations even if it done with good intentions and with the aim of raising awareness. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Why the CAS #LetDuteeRun: the Proportionality of the Regulation of Hyperandrogenism in Athletics by Piotr Drabik

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

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.

The Facts

Since 2012 Ms. Chand has been a resident at the National Institute of Sports, a training facility operated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).[1] In 2013 the Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport introduced the Standard Operative Procedure which became binding on the SAI.[2] The purpose of the measure was to establish rules governing investigations, diagnosis and assessment of eligibility to compete of female athletes with hyperandrogenism.[3] According to Ms. Chand, in mid-2014 she was asked by the Director of the AFI to undergo a doping test.[4] During a meeting with Dr. Mendiratta, the Chairperson of the AFI’s Medical Commission, the athlete was informed that she needed to undertake a routine medical examination.[5] She was then subjected to an ultrasound scan instead of a blood test.[6] While denying that the medical examination had anything to do with gender determination or hypernadrogenism testing, Dr Mendiratta admitted that a number of athletes expressed their concerns regarding Ms. Chand’s appearance, and questioned whether she should be permitted to compete in female athletics competitions.[7] After additional tests at the SAI’s training camp, Ms. Chand was notified that she would neither be allowed to compete in the World Junior Championships, nor would she be eligible for selection for the Commonwealth Games due to high levels of testosterone detected in her body.[8] The information subsequently reached the media, thus compromising the confidentiality of the athlete’s case.[9] At the end of August 2014 Ms. Chand received a letter from the AFI informing her that she has been provisionally suspended from participating in any athletics events with immediate effect.[10] On 26 September 2014 the athlete filed an appeal against the decision asking the CAS to declare the Regulations invalid and void, and to set aside the AFI’s decision.[11] Even though the decision to suspend Ms. Chand was taken by the AFI, both the IAAF and the AFI agreed to the submission of the dispute to the jurisdiction of the CAS[13] which then addressed the following issues:

I.      Do the Regulations discriminate against certain female athletes on the basis of a natural physical characteristic and/or sex?

II.    Should the Regulations be declared invalid on the basis that there is insufficient scientific evidence to uphold them?

III.  Should the Regulations be regarded as disproportionate?

IV.  Are the Regulations invalid because they are a form of unauthorised anti-doping sanction?[14]

Decision of the CAS

As a preliminary point the CAS addressed the issue of the burden and the standard of proof. Concerning the former, the parties agreed that the onus of proof as to the validity of the Regulations lies with Ms. Chand, and that in case the instrument is found to be prima facie discriminatory the burden will shift to the IAAF to establish that the Regulations are justified and proportionate.[15] If the IAAF was to succeed in establishing that the measure is justified and proportionate it was then for the athlete to disprove the grounds for the justification.[16] Ms. Chand also accepted that she bears the burden of proof as to the scientific basis for the Regulations and the issue of its validity.[17] Moreover, referring to the decision in Pistorius[18], the Panel indicated that the balance of probabilities was to be the appropriate standard of proof.[19] However, the Panel indicated that the ‘standard to justify discrimination of a fundamental right, which includes the right to compete as recognised in the Hyperandrogenism Regulations, should be to a level higher than that of the balance of probabilities’.[20]

Subsequently, and in connection to the issue of discrimination, the parties and the CAS agreed that the Regulations place restrictions on the eligibility of certain female athletes to compete on the basis of a natural physical characteristic.[21] Moreover, the instrument required female athletes to undergo testing for levels of endogenous testosterone, an obligation that does not apply to male athletes. Therefore, the Regulations were regarded by the CAS as prima facie discriminatory.[22] Consequently, it was for the IAAF to prove that the measures were necessary, reasonable, and proportionate for the purpose of establishing a level playing field for female athletes (the third issue).[23]

On the question regarding the scientific basis for the Regulations the parties agreed that lean body mass (LBM) contributes to increased sports performance, however, disagreed on the question of the effect of testosterone in generating LBM.[24] The Panel thus deemed it necessary to firstly look at the issue of the relationship between testosterone and athletic performance, and secondly, the difference between endogenous and exogenous testosterone. Concerning the former, the athlete’s expert tried to convince the Panel that on the basis of a study by Healy et al, which compared 24 variables between elite male and female athletes such as hormone levels and body fat,[25] no correlation between testosterone levels and LBM can be established.[26] It was further argued, without support in clinical or scientific data however, that the difference in LBM ratios in males and females should not be attributed solely to testosterone, but also to sociological and biological factors including the growth hormone.[27] It was also submitted, again as a mere hypothesis, that if testosterone was the key determinant of athletic performance, men with low testosterone should not be capable of successfully competing in sporting events.[28] In their response the IAAF’s experts criticized the above-mentioned study pointing at its methodological limitations (failure to use state-of-the-art methods for measuring testosterone),[29] the fact that the samples were not taken for medical purposes,[30] the timing of the blood samples (those were taken after competitions when testosterone levels in men are likely to be decreased),[31] and the lack of a discussion on the correlation between testosterone and LBM.[32] In this regard the Panel noted that, contrary to the athlete’s experts, the IAAF’s experts, relying on inter alia the Harper study, specifically addressed the relationship between testosterone and LBM. The IAAF’s experts thus established evidence for testosterone being the key factor underlying the difference in male and female athletes’ performance.[33] Moreover, the Panel agreed with the IAAF’s experts that ‘outliers’, i.e. athletes with abnormal levels of testosterone, should not be taken into account for the purpose of establishing the average testosterone levels of male and female athletes.[34] Consequently, the CAS decided that by failing to sufficiently address the issue of the relationship between testosterone and LBM, Ms. Chand did not present a case that testosterone is not a material factor in determining athletic performance.[35]

The relevance of the second sub-issue was due to the fact that the athlete and her experts agreed that exogenous testosterone has performance enhancing effects.[36] Also here the Panel was faced with contradicting evidence and testimonies. Ms. Chand’s experts indicated that the 2005 Sader study established that exogenous and endogenous testosterone may have opposite effects.[37] Furthermore, on the basis of the research done by Crewthler et al it was argued that both ‘types’ of testosterone do not necessarily lead to the same results in terms of muscle growth enhancement.[38] The IAAF’s experts did not accept these arguments. They described the Sader study as flawed in terms of the methodology used (e.g. lack of specification as to whether the subjects themselves were hyperandrogenic),[39] and submitted that the research done by Crewthler et al has not only been misrepresented since it focused on examining the short-term effects of exogenous and endogenous testosterone, but also that its findings were inconclusive.[40] Furthermore, the IAAF referred to the Cardinale and Stone study which examined both the testosterone levels and jumping abilities of female volleyball players and sprinters, and where the correlation between endogenous testosterone and performance has been established.[41] The counter argument by the athlete’s experts that the difference between sprinters and volleyball players may be due to the different nature of the two sports was considered by the Panel as a speculation and a hypothesis which cannot trump the established data and was thus rejected.[42] As a result, the CAS ruled that, based on the current scientific knowledge, it is not possible to conclude with certainty whether a difference between exogenous and endogenous testosterone exists.[43] Hence, as the burden of proof was on the athlete, she failed to prove the existence of such a difference which in turn led the CAS to conclude that there is a scientific basis for the use of testosterone as the determining factor under the Regulations.[44]

On the issue of proportionality the CAS underlined that it was of the view that endogenous testosterone is a key biological indicator of the difference between males and females.[45] It also noted that there are two categories of competitions, namely male and female, and that they cover all athletes wishing to compete.[46] However, the CAS also pointed out that it is contrary to the fundamental principles of Olympism to prevent some women from competing as a consequence of the natural and unaltered state of their body.[47] As a consequence, the Regulations could stand only if the IAAF could prove that the measures were necessary and proportionate for achieving the goal of safeguarding fair competition. And since the Regulations were based on a premise that women with hyperandrogenism enjoy a significant performance advantage, the degree of the advantage became the key issue in assessing the proportionality of the measure.[48] Here, the CAS relied on expert testimonies in order to assess both the quantitative and qualitative effects of high levels of testosterone on female athletes. Concerning the former, the CAS concluded that there is currently no evidence as to the exact effect of hyperandrogenism on female athletes’ performance.[49] Regarding the latter, the Panel found that medical examinations of female athletes are similarly not capable of providing sufficient data to illustrate what degree of competitive advantage results from endogenous testosterone over the level of 10 nmol/L that has been accepted as the threshold for the purpose of the Regulations.[50] Hence, the CAS was not able to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes enjoy a substantial competitive advantage.[51]  Excluding them from competing unless they agree to take medication or undergo a treatment cannot be regarded as a necessary and proportionate means of safeguarding fairness.

Lastly, the CAS rejected the athlete’s contention that the Regulations constitute an impermissible doping sanction. The Panel indicated that anti-doping sanctions seek only to punish the use of external substances by athletes and endogenous testosterone cannot be regarded as such.[52] Moreover, the CAS indicated that the Regulations provide for eligibility rules, and thus, have not been established to regulate prohibited conduct and to impose sanctions for violations, and do not involve any reprimand or censure.[53] Also, athletes banned on the basis of hyperandrogenism can resume competing as soon as they comply with the eligibility criteria.[54] Finally, the Panel noted that the Regulations do not purport to modify, supplement, or expand the WADA’s list of prohibited substances.[55] Consequently, the athletes last ground of appeal was rejected by the CAS.


The Dutee Chand affair has not quite reached the global climax experienced at the time of the Pistorius award in 2008. Yet, similar complex scientific facts and assessments are at play in evaluating whether high levels of endogenous testosterone provide such a competitive advantage to a women that she should be deprived of her fundamental right to compete in sporting competitions. The complexity of the matter is reflected in the length of the award (161 pages). In that regard the Pistorius decision was much shorter (14 pages). The arbitrators decided to comprehensively reflect the current state of scientific knowledge and debate over the role of high endogenous testosterone in providing a competitive edge to female athletes. This is a commendable feat of transparent decision-making by a Court and enables commentators and scientist to critically engage with the assessment made. On the scientific side of the case, the CAS arbitrators sided with IAAF. They recognise that high endogenous testosterone might provide a competitive advantage to Ms. Chand. Yet, and this is the important final twist in the decision, this does not imply that anything goes to deprive these athletes of their right to compete. Indeed, this right to compete is deemed so fundamental (obviously in line with what sport is in the end about) that a drastic restriction to it, as the one imposed on Ms. Dutee Chand, can only be justified if it is absolutely necessary and proportionate. In other words, the right to compete trumps policy decisions of international federations when these decisions are not sufficiently grounded in supporting reasons and facts. This is where the burden of proof shifts back onto the IAAF: is a high endogenous testosterone level susceptible to give an athlete such a competitive advantage that the fairness of the races be jeopardised? The IAAF has two years to demonstrate this assertion, in the meantime it will have to tolerate Ms. Chand in its competitions and we will get the opportunity to see whether or not she will outrageously dominate the world’s best runners.

[1] CAS 2014/A/3759 Dutee Chand v Athletics Federation of India and the International Association of Athletics Federations (Dutee Chand), para 8

[2] Ibidem, para 9

[3] Ibidem

[4] Ibidem, para 11

[5] Ibidem

[6] Ibidem

[7] Ibidem, para 12

[8] Ibidem, paras 15-16

[9] Ibidem, paras 17-20

[10] Ibidem, para 27

[11] Ibidem, para 75

[12] Ibidem, paras 106, 114, 358

[13] Ibidem, paras 424, 428-430, 436

[14] Ibidem, para 32

[15] Ibidem, para 441

[16] Ibidem, para 445

[17] Ibidem, paras 442-443

[18] CAS 2008/A/1480 Oscar Pistorius v the International Association of Athletics Federations

[19] Dutee Chand, paras 446-447

[20] Ibidem, para 443

[21] Ibidem, paras 448-450

[22] Ibidem, para 448

[23] Ibidem, para 449

[24] Ibidem, para 454

[25] Ibidem, para 137

[26] Ibidem, para 455

[27] Ibidem, paras 156, 460-461

[28] Ibidem, para 465

[29] Ibidem, para 456

[30] Ibidem, paras 151, 461

[31] Ibidem, para 456

[32] Ibidem

[33] Ibidem, paras 459, 462, 469

[34] Ibidem, para 467-468, 494

[35] Ibidem, paras 498-499

[36] Ibidem, para 490

[37] Ibidem, para 475

[38] Ibidem, para 478

[39] Ibidem, para 476

[40] Ibidem, para 478

[41] Ibidem, para 480

[42] Ibidem, para 481

[43] Ibidem, paras 479, 488

[44] Ibidem, paras 488, 498-499

[45] Ibidem, para 511

[46] Ibidem, para 512

[47] Ibidem, para 513

[48] Ibidem, para 517

[49] Ibidem, para 521

[50] Ibidem, para 530

[51] Ibidem, paras 524, 527, 532, 534-535

[52] Ibidem, para 543

[53] Ibidem, para 544

[54] Ibidem

[55] Ibidem, para 545

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