International Sports Arbitration - What are you up against? - ASV Law
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International Sports Arbitration – What are you up against?

The world of sport is made up of various horizontal and vertical structures both nationally and internationally whose purpose is to monitor and regulate individual sports. Stakeholders within these structures include sports federations, governing bodies and the individual athletes. Additionally, there are other bodies who regulate specific events, such as the International Olympic Committee, or specific aspects of each sport, such as the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Navigating the rules, regulations and codes of these entities can be extremely challenging, which is further complicated when it comes to sporting arbitration, due to the many varying dispute resolution procedures adopted by each entity. While an entity has most likely existed for decades and operated within these limits, an individual athlete will most likely not have experienced such a situation before, making it even more daunting.

Over time, a framework has been developed which more easily enables resolution of disputes, centred around the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and has resulted in the development of a repository of procedural and substantive international sports law. Most disputes are now subject to CAS arbitration, creating a level of consistency and making it easier for all entities involved to participate. Even when disputes are dealt with by other disciplinary bodies in the first instance, there is usually an option for appeal before the CAS. Arbitrations covered by the CAS include matters relation to doping, disciplinary procedures, qualification queries and contractual matters. The majority of cases deal with doping and as a result the Anti-Doping Division (ADD) was set up in 2019, further streamlining the process.

Need for speed

One of the distinguishing factors of sports arbitration is the importance of accelerated procedures. It is necessary that decisions regarding the outcome of a dispute are made quickly to prevent unnecessary exclusions, maintain fairness in competitions and in light of the relatively limited amount of time for which an athlete can compete at pro level. During the Olympic games, for example, additional divisions of the CAS are established to deal with disputes and make rulings within 24 hours. As a result it is even more important in sporting arbitration that the team supporting you is knowledgeable and able to act fast.

What’s the appeal?

More than 80% of the matters heard at CAS are appeals of disputes originally heard by sporting federations and other entities. This has started to slowly change as the Anti-Doping Division becomes the first instance decision making body in place of federations. ADD decisions can still be referred to the CAS appellate panel, however now that this falls under the broader CAS umbrella, it is expected to decrease.

Another distinctive characteristic of CAS arbitration is that the parties can choose individuals to represent or support them, who do not have to be lawyers and who merely need to provide a power of attorney. The arbitrators are chosen, usually one by each party, from a nominated list while the third arbitrator to make up the panel will be agreed between the parties or by the CAS. This is another reason why choosing your team is so important!
Less talk, more action

CAS Arbitrations generally consist mainly of written submissions and evidence. Oral hearings are concise and, in some circumstances, the CAS panel can decide that oral hearings are not necessary at all. Testimony can be presented in various forms including via videoconference or telephone or even from anonymous persons to protect their identity. This degree of flexibility allows for each case to be heard on its own merits taking a variety of factors, traditions, and situations into account. The importance of written submissions is yet another reason why obtaining the right assistance is imperative for such cases!

With a wealth of experience in arbitration and specifically sporting dispute resolution, ASV Law is uniquely primed to assist and advise you regarding any related matters.

Please contact ASV Law now for more information and we will be happy to assist you.