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Sport Law System

Discuss about the Sports Law for Australian Sports Commission.

The participation and success of Australia in international sport has become a fundamental element in presenting the nation on the global stage. Sports became one of the fastest growing industries in the country in the late twentieth century. The Australian Sports Commission has defined sports as a physical skill, which is competitive by nature and is universally accepted as a sport (Thorpe et al., 2013). The Australian sport sector includes various ranges of non-governmental and governmental organizations, community groups and business entities who are working to develop finest sports, active participation and reasonable opportunities for physical activities provide the Australian community with other relevant services and products.

The Federal system of Australian Government influences the governance, framework and the deliverance of the Australian sports system. The sports clubs of the nation plays an important role in developing sports and enables the Australian communities to have easy access to the health and social benefits related with such sports (Gardiner et al., 2012). The Government plays a significant role in delivering elite sports and implementing various policies and programs associated with sports, which includes providing financial assistance and support to the sports organizations, individual sportsmen or clubs, and it acts as major contributors and investors to constructing sports related infrastructure and hosting major sprits events.

The Meeting of Sport and Recreation Minister (MSRM) was established comprising the Federal, State and the Territory Ministers who were responsible for re creation and sports in the country. The MSRM acted as a forum for providing coordination and cooperation regarding matters related to the development and growth of recreation and sport in Australia. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) is a government legal authority, which is responsible for ensuring healthy performance in sport. The authority is under legal obligation to safeguard the nation’s sporting integrity by eliminating doping.

The Domestic Tribunals, unlike the arbitration bodies, cannot adjudicate matters brought before them independently as the parent sporting body has established them. The domestic tribunals are legally obligated to follow the rules of natural justice except under circumstances where such rules have been eliminated through the rules related to the governing procedure or where the parties have entered into a contractual agreement for the same. The violation of the discipline is based on the rules, regulations set up by the organization, and penalties and sanctions shall be imposed on the ground of violation of such rules.

How the System Works

The structure of the Domestic tribunals includes an individual investigator who may be present to hear the evidence or investigate into the matter; a decision-making panel; a person to present the case before the tribunal; an investigator who makes recommendations to the decision-making panel; a management committee responsible for maintaining disciplinary responsibilities.

The tribunals that perform quasi-judicial functions in the field of sports in Australia are the Australian Football League Tribunal and the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunals. The nation has outlined certain legal standards in the field of sports to ensure the integrity of the sport and most importantly, the safety of the participants. The nature of the rules that are dealt with by the Tribunals include the rules relating to the violations on the field, rules regarding any dispute arising out of the game and the rules that are included within the charter of the organization. Further, the tribunals deal with matters that arise from the contractual agreement between the sports organization and the athlete; such matters must be outlined in the agreement either expressly or impliedly. The agreement between the sport organization and the athlete provides the tribunal with specific powers.

The tribunals entertains certain matters which are typical by nature such as any serious violence that may take place on the field; any kind of public misconduct which amounts to a criminal conduct and is not related to the game directly. The tribunal attends matters that are related to the selection of any sports team and disputes arising as a result of any infringement of the sponsorship limits. The Domestic tribunals shall set out their respective guidelines and procedural rules regarding the amount of penalties to be imposed upon the wrongdoer. The familiarity of the domestic tribunal with the various scenarios of the sport acts as an advantage for the sport organizations (Windholz, 2015). Another important factor, which is advantageous for the sport organization, is the fact that the victims or the aggrieved parties usually do not tend to initiate any criminal or civil proceedings against the wrongdoer.

In Enderby Town Football Club v Football Association Ltd [1971] Ch 591 at 603, the issue raised was whether a party is allowed to be represented by his legal representative before a domestic tribunal. The rules of the Football Association expressly forbid the parties to be represented by their lawyers. According to Lord Denning MR, in domestic tribunals a good nonprofessional can often do better justice as compared to a bad lawyer. In sports as football and other sports, there are are hardly any law points, which may arise as such activities or sports, are subject to the rules and regulations of the game unless there arises any injustice of serious nature such as corruption or biasness, court intervention is not necessary. The matter can be dealt with as per the regulations of the respective game. In case an appeal is preferred before the domestic tribunal, such appeal shall be decided by the appeal panel or general meeting of members.

Domestic Tribunals

However, any organization, which is an unincorporated association, the agreement between the organization and the athlete, shall be considered as an agreement entered into consensually and shall become unenforceable. However, it is subject to certain exceptions laid down in Cameron v Hogan ( 1934) 51 CLR 358. Most sports contracts are express contracts. An infringement of such contracts is compensated by either specific performance or money damages or restitution as was held in Bulldogs Rugby League Club Ltd v Williams [2008] NSWSC 822. The contracts entered into by professional sports people coaches include contracts to play exclusively for a specific club or in a particular event; endorsement or advertising contracts, etc. an agent of the player may enter into a contract on behalf of the sports man as his representative.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is an international quasi-judicial body, which has been established to resolve the disputes that may arise in the field of sports through arbitration. The CAS headquarter is situated in Switzerland and the courts are situated in Sydney, Lausanne and New York City. A sport related dispute may be presented before the CAS subject to the condition that the parties to such dispute has entered into an arbitration agreement wherein it is specifically stated that disputes arising out of such agreement shall be recourse to the CAS. According to Rule 61 of the Olympic Charter, any dispute related to the Olympic Games can only be presented before the CAS.

The Supreme Court in the relevant territory or state may review the matters appealed from Sporting Association’s Disciplinary Tribunals. Where the amount of the dispute is, more than $750,000 such disputes shall be heard before the Supreme Court and where the dispute amount is up to $750,000 the dispute shall be heard before the District Court. Both the Disciplinary tribunals of sporting bodies and the court must follow the principle of natural justice. In Boyd v Humphreys (NSWSC, 24 May 1978, unreported), Les Boyd was a professional Rugby League player was found to be guilty of causing injury to another player during a game and was suspended for four matches. He argued that the victim who could prove his innocence was not called to adduce evidence. It was held that it amounted to denial of natural justice.

In 2013, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) published a report on sports doping and its impact on the performance the players. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) is an anti-doping agency, which concentrates on detection, deterrence and enforcement. It conducts tests and investigates sportsmen for drugs and doping offenses in sport. The WADA or World Anti-Doping Agency Code has been designed to provide an infrastructure for anti-doping systems and regulations for the same for different sporting organizations and countries (Hughes, 2015).

In Australia, ASADA enforces the WADA Code by conducting regular tests of the sportsmen irrespective of the fact whether they are participating in the sport or not. The athletes who deny going through the anti-doping tests are prohibited from participating in the sport. Shane Warne, Cricketer, while he was tested positive for a banned substance in 2003, defended himself, claiming that he consumed the drug unintentionally. Rugby player Wendell Sailor was tested positive for consuming cocaine in 2006, and was suspended for two years. The sporting bodies must comply with the ASAD and WADA Codes to ensure safety of the players and to maintain the spirit of a fair game. The Anti-doping schemes aim at safeguarding what is referred to as the true spirit of sport. The true spirit of sport may be described as a celebration of the human body, mind and soul. Doping or consumption of drugs literally kills this true spirit of sports (O'Leary, 2013). In order to combat with doping and other related offenses the anti-doping organizations must implement effective prevention programs for the athletes, which would not only ensure safety of the players and enhance their performance but also help them maintain the true spirit of sports.

Reference List

Enderby Town Football Club v Football Association Ltd [1971] Ch 591 at 603

Cameron v Hogan ( 1934) 51 CLR 358.

Bulldogs Rugby League Club Ltd v Williams [2008] NSWSC 822.

Thorpe, D., Buti, A., Davies, C., Fridman, S., & Jonson, P. (2013). Sports law. Oxford University Press.

Gardiner, S., Boyes, S., Naidoo, U., O'Leary, J., & Welch, R. (2012). Sports law. Routledge.

Beloff, M., Kerr, T., Demetriou, M., & Beloff, R. (2012). Sports law. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Hughes, D. (2015). The World Anti-Doping Code in sport. Aust Prescr, 38(5), 167-170.

Windholz, E. (2015). Professional sport, work health and safety law and reluctant regulators.

O'Leary, J. (2013). Drugs & Doping in Sports. Routledge.

Boyd v Humphreys (NSWSC, 24 May 1978)

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