Thursday, July 3, 2008

Chambers: 2 weeks and counting...

Dwain Chambers has taken his case against the British Olympic Association (BOA) before the High Court in England, seeking a ruling that the Association's by-law banning anyone who has ever tested positive for drugs from competing in the UK Olympic team for life is itself illegal. There have been successful challenges against individual bans; this, however, is the first time that the legality of the rule itself has been challenged. See my previous posts on the subject here and here.

It remains to be seen, however, just how much of GAL-relevance will emerge in this case. His legal team have stated as follows:

The basis of Mr Chambers claim is that the bylaw is an unreasonable restraint of trade in that it goes further than is reasonably necessary for protecting the interests of BOA and the public. And further, that the bylaw is inherently unfair and unreasonable given the surrounding circumstances.


This statement thus seems, at first glance at least, to confine the issues very much to domestic administrative law. The key question for our purposes is, to what extent will the conflicting international rules, embodied in the WADA Anti-Doping Code and supported by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), feature in the deliberations of the High Court? They provide, in Art. 10.2, for a two year ban for a first offence, with a lifetime ban to follow the second time.

One issue, then, is whether this sets a minimum standard in the fight against drug abuse, or the definitive balance between the rights of the individual involved and the legitimate public goal of eliminating drugs from sport. Another is whether the rules of global private (the IOC) or hybrid (the WADA) bodies can have "direct effect" over the bylaws introduced by national administrative authorities, whether formally public or private in nature (in the UK, for example, the National Olympic Committee is a private body; in France and in Italy, on the other hand, they are public in nature).

In any event, the High Court will have to act quickly on this; the BOA has to finalise its team by the 20th of July...

** UPDATE **

I wondered if the timescales involved weren't a little too quick. In the pre-Olympic hearing, which will have to rule in time for final team selection in around ten days, Chambers is only requesting a temporary injunction against the BOA bylaw, which, if granted, would be sufficient to allow him to compete in Beijing. A full hearing would then be held later in the year, doubtless at a more leisurely pace. While, then, the forthcoming decision will not be final, it will nonetheless contain much of interest in terms of outlining the directions in which the opposing arguments will be formulated, and a prima facie decision as to their persuasiveness. For more detail, see here.

3 comments:

tyson gay said...

Fantastic! The Chambers Case offres many interesting topics form the Gal perspective. The High Court decision will be very important in any case. And most of all there will be relevant consequences regarding the relationship between NOCs powers and IOC and WADA rules (in other words, between National level and International one).
Only two weeks and we will see!

Anwalt Kanton St.Gallen said...

Very insightful. Thank you for your broad perspective.

Pietro Mennea said...

Other news on this article published today:

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/07/09/sports/EU-OLY-ATH-Chambers-Appeal.php

If Chambers runs as he could, we will have important Gal issues...