The governance of sport – is there a model of best practice?
The ground-breaking action taken by Jean-Marc Bosman to permit the fee-free transfer of a player at the end of their contract is a well-known example of sport turning to traditional legal channels to resolve disputes. Relative to other sectors, however, it has long been accepted that sport is afforded a high degree of autonomy to regulate as it sees fit.
Indeed, the concept of “The Specificity of Sport” means that, under EU Law, rules that would otherwise be restrictive could be permitted if they are proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting interest.
Having a degree of autonomy must, however, be accompanied by a responsibility to have a mature and fit-for-purpose governance structure, particularly when governing rules usually provide for a private means of redress, usually through arbitration. Does sport get this right or are there improvements to be made? Should a sport, be that at national or international level, be responsible for setting the rules, deciding when the rules have been broken, have investigatory powers to then take action? Should there be a level of independence, and if so, where and when should that apply?
In this session we will discuss what good governance looks like and whether there is a minimum or optimal system, or general principles, that could be adopted and applied by all. In particular, we will look at the model followed by World Athletics, through its Athletics Integrity Unit, to understand the reasons for its establishment and learn how it approaches the not insignificant task of monitoring and applying rules and regulations on a global scale.
Peter Crowther, Partner at Winston & Strawn LLP
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 governance issues, 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.
Brett Clothier, Head of the Athletics Integrity Unit
Brett Clothier is the Head of the Athletics Integrity Unit, the independent body that manages all integrity related issues for the sport of athletics. The AIU became operational in 2017 following changes to the IAAF (now World Athletics) Constitution. These changes enshrined the operational independence of the AIU from World Athletics and put in place an independent Board to oversee its functions.
Mr Clothier has worked in sport integrity for more than 15 years. Prior to becoming the inaugural Head of the AIU, Mr Clothier worked in Australia as Head of Competition Integrity for the Australian Football League (AFL) and Legal Counsel to the Integrity Services Department of Racing Victoria.
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