Peter Crowther, Managing Partner of Winston & Strawn LLP's London and Brussels offices and a speaker at Sport Resolutions Annual Conference, and Jade-Alexandra Fearns, litigation associate, provide us with their summary of the three topics discussed and debated at the event in 2018.
From sandpaper in pockets to holes in the walls of doping laboratories along with diverging international standards of what is considered “fair play” or “cheating”, questions must be asked of the international sports community about how to ensure fairness and integrity in sport. In the wake of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care in Sport Review as commissioned by the UK Government, questions must also be asked about how best to protect athletes, especially vulnerable athletes, across all levels of sports: from recreational sport through to elite athletes. Sport Resolutions' 2018 Annual Conference afforded industry stakeholders and interested parties the opportunity to discuss these issues. This year’s conference covered the following three sessions:
- Session 1: “Athletes and Their Mental Health”
- Session 2: “Is Integrity in Sport a Hopeless Ideal?”
- Session 3: “Transgender Athletes and Their Right to Compete”
Before the sessions, the audience enjoyed a powerful and emotive talk from Richard Parks, a former professional Welsh rugby player. After a shoulder injury ended his career at 31, he could see no future for himself. His physical and emotional wellbeing hit rock bottom.
“The horizon is only the limit of our sight”
It was this line from his grandmother’s funeral that inspired him to emerge from 21 days in solitude in the empty white room at the back of his parent’s house. He threw himself into a new life that culminated in becoming the first person in history to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents and ski to the North and South Poles in the same calendar year, completing the arduous feat in less than seven months.
Richard’s powerful opening speech was followed by the first session: “Athletes and Their Mental Health” with a panel comprised of Ian Braid, Jeffrey Bacon, Shameema Yousuf, Richard Brian and Helen Richardson-Walsh.
During the session, the panel discussed what more could be done to promote mental health and emotional wellbeing throughout sport. Early intervention (either at youth level or early signs of deterioration), an open dialogue and effective language are critical features to help create a safe space for athletes to speak up on their emotional wellbeing and mental health issues. The panel also considered whether sporting bodies owed their athletes a duty of care to promote and protect emotional wellbeing. Whilst the panel considered whether a legal duty of care existed, questions were also asked as to whether a moral duty of care existed (especially where a legal duty of care could not necessarily be established) to protect the emotional wellbeing of athletes and those involved in the sport.
Questions were asked about the source of funding for the necessary personnel, such as psychologists needed to provide appropriate pastoral and medical services in sport. The panel agreed that the provision of adequate mental health services should not be inhibited by lack of funding. Questions therefore remain as to where the additional funding should come from.
Following Session 1, David Howman, chair of the Athletes Integrity Unit and former director general at WADA, gave a powerful speech about the importance of integrity in sport. David asked rhetorically what is meant by a “clean athlete” given that the concept of what is “clean” is not defined in sport. He discussed the endemic levels of corruption across all levels of sports, not just in relation to doping, and explained that he supported the findings of the UK’s Duty of Care in Sport Review, chaired by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. In particular, David welcomed the concept of an independent Sports Ombudsman to help protect integrity across all levels of sport in the UK. David noted that the UK could be a pioneer for the world of international sport should the UK give the Ombudsman sufficient enforcement powers.
For the second panel, David was joined by women’s marathon world record holder, Paula Radcliffe, and Managing Partner of Winston & Strawn London LLP, Peter Crowther. The panel engaged in a lively debate about whether integrity in sport is a hopeless ideal. Questions were asked about whether doping and other non-criminal forms of cheating should be criminalised and if so, how the relevant penalties would be enforced. Turning to the present anti-doping system, it was agreed that the investigative process should be shortened so that athletes accused of doping, along with their competitors and the wider public know their fate quickly. An efficient investigative process is also important in ensuring that the consequences imposed on athletes who have been found guilty of doping are enforced in a fair and timely manner.
The panel also discussed whether an integrity tax should be placed on key stakeholders in international sport (such as broadcasters and sponsors) to help agencies detect corruption and cheating and enforce suitable penalties both in relation to on-field and off-field cheating, especially in relation to the trillion dollar industry of sports betting. Lessons about the success or shortcomings of such taxes or “integrity fees” may be learned from the U.S. where such fees are being considered in certain states to act essentially as taxes on legal sports betting. Both the NBA and Major League Baseball have supported the introduction of such fees as they look to find a way to profit from the proliferation of legalised sports betting and to promote integrity in their sports.
In light of the IAAF’s recent guidelines about the eligibility of male-to-female transgender athletes to compete in female sport, the final panel comprising of Fenella Morris QC, Adrian Christy, Fiona Bruce, Dr. Mike Irani and Jonathan Taylor QC discussed whether the guidelines are sufficient in and of themselves to promote inclusion across all levels of sport for transgender athletes. The panel engaged in a lively debate as to whether the guidelines are correct in isolating testosterone levels as the main criteria for inclusion in female sport. Questions were asked about what further research needed to be done to understand the effects of medication to reduce the levels of testosterone in male-to-female transgender athletes, and whether high testosterone levels alone gave athletes an advantage over their peers.
Whilst the panel considered whether a points-based system for transgender athletes, effectively acting as a handicap, might be a suitable alternative for professional sports, it was noted that such system was not afforded with the same anonymity as a system relying on testosterone levels. Self-determination was also considered, but questions were asked about the effectiveness of a system where athletes can self-select their gender. Recent incidents of athletes lying about their ages in youth sport make clear that certain checks and balances are required to protect fair competition for all athletes, especially in professional sports. Outside of professional sports, for example in recreational sports clubs, it was agreed that more can be done to promote the inclusion of transgender athletes. The panel also discussed their own experiences in facilitating the inclusion of transgender athletes onto sports teams and recognised that, in a similar fashion to mental health wellbeing, effective language and education would help improve tolerance of acceptance of transgender athletes.
£345 + VATStandard
£295 + VATEarly Bird
Registration (The Wren-Nelson Suite, Lower Ground, Floor 2)
Welcome by Richard Harry, keynote address by Richard Parks
Athletes and Their Mental Health, presented by Ely Place Chambers
Is Integrity in Sport a Hopeless Ideal Presented by Winston & Strawn, Address by David Howman
Buffet lunch, (Novello Restaurant, Floor 1)
Transgender Athletes and Their Right to Compete, Presented by 39 Essex Chambers
Drinks reception (Sports Bar, Ground Floor)
Alison Mitchell Presenter
Alison is an award winning sport journalist and broadcaster, best known as a cricket commentator on the BBC’s iconic Test Match Special programme. A trail blazer in her field, Alison has led the way as a female sports commentator, establishing herself back in 2007 as the first woman to be a regular part of the TMS team, covering cricket around the world.
She broke further ground recently by commentating on the men’s Ashes series for BT Sport - the first time a woman had been involved in televised Ashes coverage. Alison also commentates on tennis as part of the BBC's Wimbledon coverage, and has played key roles at the Beijing, London and Rio Olympics Games as a presenter and commentator for BBC Radio Five Live, as well as for Channel 4 at the London Paralympics.
Alison presents a weekly cricket podcast on the BBC World Service and can be heard presenting the sport on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
Richard ParksKeynote Speaker
Richard is a world record holding extreme environment athlete, having previously been a Welsh international rugby player playing for clubs in Britain and France.
His pioneering expeditions and projects have pushed the boundaries of human performance whilst having a social or charitable impact.
Richard has recently been focusing on translating the leadership lessons he has learnt into educational programmes for senior business leaders. He is also a Sport Wales Board Member, award-winning author, BAFTA nominated TV presenter and Visit Wales ambassador.
Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE Session 1
At the age of 18, Helen became the youngest ever woman to represent GB hockey and has gone on to compete at four Olympic Games. During her career she has amassed a Commonwealth bronze and two silvers, a bronze at London 2012, and the European Championship title in 2015, before finally reaching the pinnacle of her sport at Rio 2016.
Helen’s career was threatened at the age of just 23 with two rounds of back surgery. Consultants warned it was unlikely she would ever play hockey again, and having lost her place in the squad she experienced a loss of identity and period of depression. Helped through this by her wife Kate, her own reading into psychology and the support structure within hockey she battled back to retake her place in the squad.
oday Helen is a hockey coach, continues to play at club level, and has just completed a degree in psychology, inspired by her experience in battling back from injury, and her experience of elite performance and winning teams.
Ian Braid Session 1
Ian brings a wealth of professional experience, along with passion, honesty and empathy to the issue of duty of care and mental health in sport. To continue his work on duty of care in sport and mental health in particular, Ian set up DOCIAsport.
The company works independently in the sector and offers advice, support and guidance. DOCIAsport’s work is wide ranging from reviewing selection processes, undertaking well-being surveys with staff and coaches, speaking to students in further education and monitoring mood in real time to both prevent mental illness and as a contributor to performance of elite athletes.
Ian has been in demand to speak about the impact on his own mental health in sport as a CEO to help others learn from his experience and develop more of a duty of care to themselves.
Richard Bryan Session 1
Richard is a solicitor and former professional rugby player. Following retirement due to injury, Richard qualified as a solicitor with Clarke Willmott in Bristol and practised with the firm’s sports law team, which included advising the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) on legal issues.
In 2011 Richard joined the RPA, as a Personal Development Manager, and in 2014, he was appointed as the RPA’s Rugby Director and is responsible for the RPA’s Player Welfare services and programmes, including Player Representation, Legal, Insurance and the RPA Personal Development Programme.
The RPA is a signatory of The Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation, runs a confidential counselling service for members, and in 2017 launched its nationally acclaimed ‘Lift the Weight’ mental health awareness campaign.
Richard joined Sport Resolutions as Representative Director for the Professional Players Federation in November 2019.
Shameema Yousuf Session 1
Shameema, founder of Empower2Perform is a psychologist specializing in sport psychology and athlete wellbeing. She is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology who sits on two committees.
She is also a Registered Counsellor with British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and is a Division 47 Member of American Psychological Society and Graduate Member with British Psychological Society – Sport and Exercise Psychology Division.
Shameema has an extensive background supporting professional and elite athletes in many sports and is also psychologist at Brighton and Hove Albion FC. Having been an elite hockey athlete and a corporate financial leader prior to her career in the health field, she draws together her experience of high performance, with her knowledge and practice in sport psychology and mental health.
Jeffrey Bacon Session 1
Jeffrey has a very wide knowledge of sports law and sporting issues (as well as being a keen player of a number of sports). He has been engaged by 3 elite coaches in the Olympic sports field who were suspended following allegations of a breach of safeguarding policies, bullying or favouritism.
He has advised on a variety of sports related disputes, including some of the major sporting bodies (including advising UK Sport on and drafting the agreements for coaches and Elite Athletes prior to Beijing and London Olympics) and teams (football, Formula One, Welsh Rugby), and for the athlete in a 7 day doping case under WADA at Sport Resolutions.
David HowmanSession 2
David is the Chair of the Athletes Integrity Unit, having been appointed to that position by the IAAF Council in April 2017. He is also currently the Chair of World Squash Ethics Commission, was a member of the Australian Government’s Panel reporting on Sport Integrity, and holds the position of Adjunct Professor at AUT.
David was Director General of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), from 2003 until July 2016, and was instrumental in the shaping of WADA into a highly respected and unified global organization responsible for regulating and monitoring world sport and world governments.
He was Deputy Chair of the Independent Anti-Doping Observer team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and the Chair of that mission at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Among other positions David has been Chair of New Zealand Tennis, Fair Play Citing Commissioner for SANZAR and New Zealand Rugby, a Board member for the Hillary Commission for Sport (now Sport New Zealand), and a Board Member of the New Zealand Sports Foundation. David practises as an independent Barrister in Wellington.
Paula Radcliffe MBE Session 2
Paula Radcliffe MBE is an English former long distance runner and is the current women’s world record holder in the marathon. She is a former IAAF marathon world champion and seven-time big city marathon winner (London, New York, Chicago).
On the track she has been a 5,000m Commonwealth Champion; a 10,000m European Champion and IAAF World Championships silver medallist. She was awarded an MBE in June 2002 and later that year was voted the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
Paula is an active campaigner against the use of drugs in sport and has spoken publicly about the problems of athletes’ releasing their blood test history. Paula served a term as the Vice Chair of the IAAF Athletes’ Commission. She now works for the Athletics Integrity Unit as a consultant.
Peter Crowther Session 2
Peter Crowther serves as managing partner of Winston & Strawn’s London and Brussels offices. Widely recognised as a leading competition and trade lawyer, a significant part of his practice involves working within the firm’s market leading global sports law practice.
Peter handles a wide range of sports matters including complaints and investigations relating to athlete welfare, performance development, funding, selection, classification, doping, and athlete agreements.
Peter also advises on commercial agreements including in respect of tournaments, athlete boycotts, and related competition issues.
Fenella Morris QCSession 3
Fenella Morris QC is a leading advocate with a practice that encompasses public law and human rights, and every aspect of regulation and professional discipline. She has been named by a legal directory as a Star of the Bar and appeared in many landmark cases before the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.
She has advised those in the public, private and voluntary sectors on a host of novel equality and inclusion issues, including those raised by gender identity and changes in it. Her professional interest in sport includes advising on its role in regeneration projects, and she is currently acting in the litigation concerning the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, Coventry City FC and Wasps.
Fenella has recently been elected a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple; her work there focuses on mentoring those entering the profession from what are termed non-traditional backgrounds.
Adrian Christy Session 2
Adrian has been Chief Executive of Badminton England since 2006 and is leading the organisation through a vision for badminton to be one of the nation’s most popular sports and to consistently win World, Olympic and Paralympic medals.
Adrian is driving a journey of modernisation and self-sustainability at Badminton England. Under Adrian’s leadership, Badminton England has secured the greatest level of commercial investment in the history of the organisation, seen the Yonex All England Open Championships be included among the three badminton ‘Majors’ on the World Tour, demonstrated great vision and creativity through the launch of the first professional badminton league in the UK and in 2015, the achievements of Badminton England were recognised when they were awarded the prestigious Governing Body of the Year at the BT Sport Industry Awards.
Fiona BruceSession 3
Fiona Bruce is a member of the Scotland women’s hockey team, and Wimbledon Ladies Hockey Club. She has competed for her country since the age of 16, playing in 4 Junior European Championships.
Fiona made her senior debut in October 2014, and went on to represent Scotland at the European Championships in London 2015. Her hockey career has been plagued by injury, but she continues to play for her country and one day hopes to coach at an international level. Fiona studied law at the University of Glasgow, following which she completed a Sports Sciences degree at the University of Strathclyde.
Currently a Performance Hockey Coach for both Wimbledon Hockey Club and Wellington College, she is hoping to embark on a career within the sports sector, and has a particular interest in ethical issues within a sporting context.
Jonathan Taylor QC Session 3
Jonathan is a partner at Bird & Bird LLP and head of its Sports Group. For the past 21 years Jonathan has worked exclusively for sports governing bodies and other clients active in the sports sector, advising them on commercial matters such as the exploitation of broadcasting and sponsorship rights, contentious matters, and in particular regulatory and disciplinary issues including match-sanctioning, match-fixing, and doping issues.
Jonathan is an experienced advocate and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in January 2017. He regularly appears before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, as well as a range of internal sports tribunals. He is co-editor (with Adam Lewis QC) of the leading sports law text, Sport: Law and Practice (Bloomsbury 3rd Edn 2014), and co-author of Challenging Sports Governing Bodies (Bloomsbury 2016). He is also chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency's Compliance Review Committee.
Dr Michael S IraniSession 3
Mike is a Consultant Rheumatologist and a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons for whom he examines.
He was Medical Advisor to the British Olympic Association at three summer Olympic Games between 1984 and 1992, and thereafter as Competition Doctor for the International Weightlifting Federation and similarly for the Commonwealth Games, having just returned from the Gold Coast 2018 Games.
Mike is also an Executive Board Member for the IWF and Chairman of the Medical Committee. He has sat on the ADR panel for the IWF and now for Sport Resolutions. Also, Mike has been invited by the IOC to join a Specialist Committee on transgender issues in sport.