CEO’s Review of the Year
With a global pandemic, increasing social unrest and the continuing climate crisis, 2020 has been a uniquely challenging year for all of us.
The world’s health, financial, educational, and commercial institutions continue to be significantly impacted by COVID-19, with the sports sector suffering comparable disruption.
Sports events from major competitions to local leagues have been cancelled or postponed with a knock-on effect on governing bodies, owners, clubs, rights-holders, broadcasters and sponsors, as well as players and fans.
Sport Resolutions’ Services
Due to the considerable experience gained over the past few years of conducting virtual hearings for our international clients, we were able to seamlessly expand that virtual offering to all domestic matters too. The disruption caused by the pandemic was certainly damaging, but we are proud to have been able to continue to administer hearings that arose before COVID and because of it.
Despite the cancellation of many sporting events, we have administered several high-profile matters including the doping cases of American 100m World Champion Christian Coleman and Bahraini 400m World Champion Salwa Eid Naser’s, as well as a number of EFL cases.
Investigations and Reviews
During the year SR has completed a number of investigations and reviews, both at international and national level, such as the PFA Review, the UK Athletics Safeguarding Review and a UCI Investigation.
In late November SR was appointed by British Gymnastics to select and appoint the Independent Person who will be responsible for the independent oversight and implementation of the British Gymnastics Independent Complaints Process. SR has also been commissioned to select individuals to be the first point of contact for all complaints received by the British Athletes Commission and/or through the NSPCC Helpline in the period 6 July 2020 to 9 October 2020 and to provide administrative support throughout.
Our reputation continues to grow internationally, which is reflected in the volume of referrals we receive from International Federations. That global standing is now further evidenced by the inclusion of specific reference to Sport Resolutions in the 2021 WADA Code. A new requirement in the Code will be to make it mandatory for anti-doping tribunals to be demonstrably independent of the body bringing any charge. It is testament to our growth and standing that we are expressly identified in the Code as being a body that can provide both the anti-doping expertise and the required independence.
We have been in discussions with other international bodies during the year, and we are in the process of finalising the required contracts. We look forward to sharing the details of those in the new year.
New Panel Applications
The quality and depth of our panel is of key importance to the work that we do. Our diverse panel consists of experienced and esteemed members ranging from leading legal minds including barristers, QCs and former High Court judges, as well as specialists across different sectors such as doctors, scientists, psychologists, pharmacologists, former police officers, social workers, accountants, HR professionals, magistrates and ex-athletes which allows us to tailor appointments to the particular needs of a case.
The issues that must be decided are typically of huge importance to the parties and it must be a given that the person or panel appointed has the appropriate skills and expertise. To have so much talent and skill available is a huge asset to SR and all those who use our services.
We are committed to promoting equality and we would particularly encourage applications from individuals from diverse and under-represented backgrounds. More details can be found on our website, and our team is always happy and available to assist.
The call for applications to join Sport Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators closes on Sunday 31st January 2021.
New Company Strategy and SR Seal
To build on our success in recent years in terms of volume, breadth and variety of work, we concluded a wide strategic review at the end of 2019, and published our new strategy this year which provides for a more ambitious and outward looking approach.
A detailed marketing review was also conducted to identify and validate the core Sport Resolutions attributes − independence and expertise − and how these ensure integrity. Through a carefully managed process with a strategic communications agency we have developed a seal which will provide comfort and reassurance to stakeholders that a fair and proper process has been followed. This red seal can now be seen across our materials.
Following the postponement of our 2020 event due to the pandemic, we were hoping to be able to hold our conference in May 2021. However, as significant restrictions remain in place, as is likely for the foreseeable future, we have taken the decision to also postpone the 2021 event. We are, however, not happy to stay silent for that long so will be arranging a replacement virtual offering online instead in March 2021.
In line with previous events, we will have an esteemed panel of sport professionals and industry experts to discuss the latest news and ideas in the areas of anti-doping, athlete welfare, good governance and integrity, moderated by a respected presenter.
We are very much looking forward to holding our first ever virtual conference in 2021 and hope to welcome you there, virtually of course.
Teaching Awareness of Ethical Governance in Sport (TAGS)
Between October 2017 and January 2020, Sport Resolutions participated in the TAGS Project which was supported by the Erasmus+ programme along with the University of Gloucestershire (UK), the University of Thessaly (Greece), Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic), and Universitatea Transilvania din Brașov (Romania).
We drew on our experience as a world leading sport dispute resolution service to produce the content of the Case Study Compendium which is comprised of real, but anonymised, cases collated from Sport Resolutions archives. The topics identified in the Needs Analysis Report informed the selection of cases to be covered in the teaching materials.
We are grateful to our academic partners for their collaboration and assistance throughout the process, and hope that our combined efforts assist in the promotion of good governance, accessibility, and integrity.
Looking to the Future
In summary, 2020 has been an exceptional year but for all the wrong reasons. All aspects of life have been adversely affected and sport is no exception to that.
The team at Sport Resolutions will continue to provide assistance to sport, both within the UK and internationally, to resolve the disputes and differences that arise in these difficult times.
Looking ahead, it is clear that integrity and player welfare are now being recognised as key components in measuring the success of sport. Sport Resolutions welcomes this change of emphasis and we hope to play a key role in the establishment of the required processes and support networks that will deliver on this laudable aim.
With my best wishes and in the hope that 2021 will be better for us all.
Chief Executive, Sport Resolutions