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Published by Enhelion, 2019-11-25 01:15:28

ISL_Module 12

ISL_Module 12




Sport has proven to be a powerful societal phenomenon that unites communities across the
world and fosters international exchange and friendship at its most noble level. Sports today,
is a global community at all levels. It is about big money which is naturally followed by
sport-related disputes. Previously being a niche area, international sports law has evolved
significantly. The changes in the legal framework have important implications for the
participant athletes and the spectators. International sports law, as an emerging process
provides insights into opportunities as well as limitations of international co-operation and
collective action as a mechanism of social protocol and control.

Currently, sports law has a definite position in the legal system and the new sports law
jurisprudence – lex sportiva is in the brim of emergence. The increase in the interaction
between sports and the law has led to the development of sports law. Sports touches upon
varied areas of law and the legal principles are adapted to different situations arising in
sports. Topics of law like contract, tax, competition, discrimination share a boundary with
sports when issues arise relating to the performance of a contract or selection of a player or a
relationship between the club or organisation and the player. Apparently, there are larger
matters like match-fixing, doping, and violence practiced in the sports arena alongside other
areas like advertising rights, restraint clauses for players in contracts, etc. Salmond once said
‘a person is subject to the rules of the game only when he plays the game.’ However, there
exists a haphazard development in sports law, the reason being most of the rules and
regulations are governed by various organizations and federations. Any which way, the
importance of law in sports cannot be forsworn. The problem gets even more challenging
when it comes to international sports as we are already under the porous roof of international
law. The dark cloud around sports has multiple layers and forms and is difficult to penetrate
but with the improvements in the field of sports law, we can look forward to a promising
system in sports law.


Various authors have argued about the distinctiveness of ‘international sports law’ by
describing it as ‘lex sportiva’.1 Beloff expresses Lex sportiva as having three main elements:

• That it has transnational norms that are generated by the rules and practices of international
sporting federations,

• That it has a unique jurisprudence, with legal principles that are different from those of
national courts, and which is declared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and

• That it is constitutionally autonomous from national law.

According to him, the foundation principle, the cornerstone of lex sportiva, is to allow the
autonomy for decision making bodies in sport and establish a constitutional equilibrium
between the courts and sports federations.2 The globalisation and internationalization of
sports law as lex sportiva implies that the international sporting federations are legally
immune from regulations by national legal systems and can only be regulated by their own
internal or external bodies established or authorized by the same international sports

This in turn allows the private regimes of international sporting federations such as the IOC
or FIFA, to be legally unaccountable for their actions and doings except by arbitration
systems established and validated by their own private regimes.3 This globalisation of sport
has moved the focus of legal regulations increasingly onto international sports federations.
These organisations have rulebooks and constitutions to control and govern the arena of
international sport. Their decisions can have profound effects on the careers of players and

1 Beloff, M., T. Kerr and M. Demetriou, Sports Law (Oxford: Hart, 1999); see also A. Caiger and S. Gardiner
(eds.), Professional Sport in the EU: Regulation and Re-Regulation (The Hague: Asser Press, 2000), 301–3,
where they write of a ‘distinct lex sportiva’. Maclearn says that this is ‘a term coined by the Acting General
Secretary of Court of Arbitration for Sport, Matthieu Reeb, at the time of the publishing of the first digest of
Court of Arbitration for Sport decisions stretching over the period from 1983-1998’. ‘The court of arbitration for
sport: an independent arena for the worlds sports disputes’, Valparasio Law Review (2001), 379 at fn.11.
Teubner, however, quotes a 1990 source, G. Simon, Puissance sportive et ordre juridique etatique (Paris: 1990),
in idem, ‘“Global Bukowina”: Legal Pluralism in the World Society’, in Teubner (note 20).
2 Ibid.
3 Foster, K., ‘Is There a Global Sports Law?’, Entertainment Law, Vol.2, No.1, Spring 2003, pp.1–18, at 1.

also have important economic consequences. They are autonomous organisations that are
independent of national governments.4

The distinction between globalisation and internationalization is very important as an
international sports law may be applied by national courts but the adoption and
implementation of global sport laws require the exclusion of national laws.5 The international
sports law should include the principles of international law applicable on sports because
international law is governing relations between States and it should therefore be a part of
international law rather than a separate legal norm called supranational sports law or Lex
Sportiva.6 The international sports law should be characterized by a system in which the
highest authority of sport is established in the form of a multinational organization and the
national jurisdictions are sovereign which is governed by the national laws. On the other
hand, a global sports law is created by the worlds governing sport authorities and constitutes
an independent supranational legal order which is not governed by national law.7 The term
Lex Sportiva can refer to a global sports system or an international sports system. Some
scholars support the view that Lex Sportiva includes the international sports law and some
refer to it as the global sports law rules.8 Thus, it can be said that the international sports rules
of international sports law can coexist with that of the global sports law rules.


Sports help inculcate character, loyalty, sense of fair play, team spirit and the capacity to
accept a loss.9 In the present day, there are a number of problems and challenges that are
being faced by sportsmen and sportswomen, organizers, organisations, sport clubs and
federations as well as states. Several issues have been encountered in the development of
sports law like doping-testing and procedures, team selection, competition qualifications,
hiring and firing of coaches and trainers, contracts between players and organisers are just a

4 Vijay Kumar Singh, ‘Issues in Emerging Area of Sports Law: Lex Sportiva,’ Indian Law Review (Inaugural

Issue 2009), Vol 1 No. 1, pp. 114-147, National Law Institute University, Bhopal,
5 Foster, K., ‘Is There a Global Sports Law?’, Entertainment Law. Published by Frank Cass. London. Vol.2, No.

1, Spring 2003, pp. 1-18.
6 This view has been proposed by Prof. Nafzinger. See Nafzinger J, ‘Globalizing Sports law,’ Marquette Sports

Law Journal. 9 (1999), pp.225-237.
7 Papaloukas, M., ‘Sports Law and Sports Market’, Χορηγία. Sport Management International Journal. Vol.

1(1): 39-45, (2005),
8 Beloff, M., Kerr T., Demetriou M., ‘Sports Law’, Oxford, Hart (1999).
9 Annaliese Nelson, ‘When, Where and Why Does the State Intervene in Sport: A Contemporary perspective’, (2005),

few critical areas that were subjected to the authoritarian quirks of sports administrators who
refused to brook disobedience or dissent from their players.10 Now, the times have changed
and there are various issues emerging from the activity of sports around the world. Some of
the challenges confronted are betting, match-fixing, doping, taxation issues, etc. These
concerns in the province of sports law are not in conformity with rules and regulations and
are thus diverting from the course of the legal norms in sports law. Such divergence has
resulted in several loopholes making way for grey areas in this field. Certain issues pertaining
to the area of sports law wherein the role and relationship between sports and the law and
also in the purview of business is discussed further.


Sports have taken a commercial turn in the phase of its development. Contracts are used by
almost all the sport associations not only in business affairs but also in areas of employment
and programming. For example, athletes sign participation contracts with the sport
association as well as with major sports organizations; coaches sign employment contracts;
organizations, suppliers and athletes sign sponsorship agreements and also participants sign
waivers (a form of contract) in recreational sport. These contracts cover everything from the
conduct and discipline of the persons involved to the selection processes of the participants
including monetary issues.11 General principles of laws of contract applies to such contracts. CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT

Players and owners or organisations have to negotiate mandatory matters relating to hours,
wages and working conditions. The agents who are entrusted to conduct business on behalf of
the player, needs to work as per the well-defined rules and procedures that serve the best
interests of the game. In terms with this commercial turn of sports, is the athlete (the player),
whose value is his or her image and persona over which the athlete has complete ownership.12
Initially, the respective obligations of the athlete and the organization are written down in
agreements that specify and address details, such as conduct and discipline matters,

10 Melnitzer, Julius, ‘This Sporting Life: Amateur Sports’, Canadian Lawyer (March 1999), at p. 22.
11 ‘Some Basics on Contracts’ Coaches Report - Fall 1996, Volume 3 Number 2, Centre for Sport and Law,
12 ‘A New View of Athlete Agreements’, Coaches Plan - Fall 2006, Volume 13 Number 2, Centre for Sport and

compliance with the rules of the organization, training commitments and reporting
expectations, which is called an agreement of Athlete Assistance Program (AAP).13 However,

recently, these standard-form agreements have evolved into full-fledged commercial

contracts depending on the sport and its commercial appeal. A typical Athlete Agreement

now includes complex commercial transactions relating to the athlete's publicity and image

rights and how these can be leveraged by sport federations, sponsors and host committees. In

certain cases, athletes are asked to forfeit particular rights in perpetuity. In spite of few

athletes having the knowledge or the financial capacity to negotiate a commercial contract,

they are instructed explicitly by their federations (and their respective fund raisers) that they
need to sign these agreements to obtain their much-needed AAP financial support.14 When an

athlete is prohibited from playing from another club or leaving the former club, some issues
arise relating to affirmative injunction.15


Unfair competition in sports appears in various forms. One such example is the large doping

scandal in which Russia was banned from competing in the Olympic Winter Games in

PyeongChang. Unfair competition may also occur in cases when sports associations or

sponsors breach the competition rules. It is observed that practices of sports associations and

sponsors and also the agreements between them and the sportsmen are subjected to

competition law. Sportsmen nowadays are increasingly and successfully relying on the

breach of the cartel prohibition or the prohibition of abuse of a dominant position.

Competition authorities are also playing an active role in looking into such breaches.

Like many other sectors of the national economy, the professional sports in the USA have
also faced antitrust scrutiny,16 specifically the five major professional sports17 rather than any

other sector. For instance, in the recent years, several leagues have faced challenges due to

13 McCann, Michael A. and Joseph S. Rosen, Legality of the Age Restrictions in the NBA and the NFL, 56 Case
Western Reserve Law Review, 2006.
14 Id. - The rationale for pursuing such integrated marketing enterprises is that sport organizations provide direct
and indirect support to athletes by financing coaches, trainers, medical staff, training camps, equipment, travel
and accommodation, and competitive opportunities.
15 Rapp, Geoffrey C., ‘Affirmative Injunctions in Athletic Employment Contracts: Rethinking the Place of the
Lumley Rule in American Sports Law’, 16 Marquette Sports Law Review 261 (2006).
16 Jonathan C. Tyras, Players Versus Owners: Collective Bargaining and Antitrust After Brown v. Pro Football,
Inc., 1 U. Pa. J. Lab. & Emp. L. 297, 310 (1998) (“Although baseball has enjoyed some degree of exemption
from Sherman Act liability, courts have not provided a similar luxury to other forms of entertainment or even to
other sports.”)
17 The five major professional sports are Major League Baseball (“MLB”), the National Basketball Association
(“NBA”), the National Football League (“NFL”), the National Hockey League (“NHL”), and Major League
Soccer (“MLS”).

the restrictions on television broadcasts and the unilateral implementation of league-wide
labour policies, which seems to be an issue under competition law or the antitrust law which
relates to the treatment of professional leagues as ‘single entity’ so as to protect it from
provisions of the Sherman Act wherein Section 1 provides to prohibit ‘every combination,
contract…or restraint of trade’ and Section 2 applies to those single entities
which prohibits monopolization of an industry by a single legal entity.18


One of the greatest issues in sports leagues is reconciliation between the parties involved. The
competing interests of clubs or franchisees with that of the sportsmen or other organisations
while maintaining the spirit of sport is deemed to be one of the challenges. To avoid the
antitrust laws, these issues are resorted to an appropriate league design which is to be
followed by the clubs or franchisees.19


There are various intellectual property rights and commercial rights in sports and it is
necessary to address issues associated with sports. It can be emphasized that sport is
essentially a social activity and one of the reasons for sports being popular is that it has an
effective tool for brand marketing.

Today, sports have become commercially exploitable and generate a lot of revenue only due
to the support of people. Money has acquired an enormous role in every sporting event.20
Professionalisation and commercialisation of sports, as well as popularisation and
marketability of sports products are some of the factors which have led to the development of
sports in the light of business as a marketable commodity. All the teams and its players try to
build a strong identity so that fans identify them with the help of the team mascot,
combination of colours and theme songs. Fans wear the official team jerseys to the matches
to demonstrate their loyalty and support to their beloved teams. Patents, Copyrights, Trade
Marks and Design Rights are some of the commercial rights that are available in sports apart

18 Grow, Nathaniel, ‘There’s No “I” in “League”: Professional Sports Leagues and the Single Entity Defence,’
Michigan Law Review (October 2006), Vol. 105:183.
19 Ross, Stephen F. and Stefan Szymanski, ‘the Law & Economics of Optimal Sports League Design’, Illinois
Public Law and Legal Theory Research Papers Series, Working Paper No. 03-14, (September 30, 2003)
20 Intellectual Property Rights In Sports-Indian Perspective - Intellectual Property - India,

from contractual rights. More than often, teams and associations are supposed to maintain
confidentiality regarding some matters that is to be within the bounds of the that team.
However, there are numerous instances where the members of the team have leaked sensitive
information. For example, in 2008, when footballer Brett Favre quit Green Bay Packers, gave
some of their schemes to his new club, Detroit Lion, there was a clear case of violation of the
Trade Secret Law. Another important aspect of IPR issues is that relates to broadcast rights in
sports. These rights originate during the screening of a sporting event. These rights are
available apart from rights present in the content of a live match. These rights generally lie
with the broadcasting companies and allows them to broadcast or rebroadcast the same. If
any person, without having complied with the requirements, tries to reproduce any such
recording, he or she is said to have infringed the rights of the broadcasters.21 Another issue
that that is dealt in this scope is ambush marketing which occurs quite frequently due to the
lack of definite legal framework in India and also around the world.22 Ambush Marketing
refers to an attempt made by a company to capitalise themselves on the events, in which it is
not an official sponsor.23

The whole arena of intellectual property rights in connection to sports is governed by WIPO
(World Intellectual Property Organization) like any other IP rights. WIPO is a specialised
agency of the United Nations, based in Geneva. It promotes the innovation and creativity for
the economic, social and cultural development of all countries, through an effective and
balanced international IP system.24 For instance, a simple shoe worn by the players may be
protected by several IP rights like designs (for the look of the shoe), patents (for the
technology used to develop the shoe), copyrights (for any audio-visual creation used to
publicize the shoe), trademarks (for the brand name of the shoe), etc. ISSUE REALTED TO RIGHT TO PUBLICITY

The right of publicity is a doctrine recurrently employed by celebrities or athletes in lawsuits.
It usually involves the likeness of a famous person, which is a common law cause of action

21 Aswathy Sujith, Sports and Intellectual Property Rights: An Overview on the Indian Standards, 58-65 (JLSR.
22 Urvashi Agrawal and Gauri A. Sharan, ‘Issues plaguing the Sports Arena’, Jamia Law Journal (2018), ISSN
No.: 2456-2718 143,
23 Gordian N. Hasselblatt & David Kipping, India Intellectual Property and Information Technology Laws:
News Letter, (2012),
24 IP and Sports - Background Brief,

for the right of publicity. This arises where one appropriates the commercial value of an
another's identity or likeness without that person’s consent.25 The right of publicity doctrine
first appeared, in the case of Haelan Laboratories, Inc. v. Topps Chewing Gum, Inc.,26 as an
offspring of the right of privacy cause of action. In Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard
Broadcasting,27 Zacchini, a cannonball performer sued a local television station for its
videotaping and airing of Zacchini's act after he had explicitly prohibited the station from
doing so. The Court sided with Zacchini, with a reasoning as to the protection of the
plaintiff's ‘right of publicity’ which in turn prevents unjust enrichment by the theft of good

Copyright infringement is an extension of IP rights. In National Basketball Association
(NBA) v. Motorola and STATS (New York)29,in which the American National Basketball
Association (NBA) sued Motorola for transmitting real-time information about the basketball
matches only with a two-minute delay to its users on Motorola's ‘Sports Trax’ device, which
was a hand-held pager that displayed updated scores and statistics of the ongoing NBA
games. The issue was whether the unauthorized transmission of ‘real-time’ information of
matches in progress constituted an infringement of the event organizer's copyright or his
property right. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, USA, held that attending matches
organized by the NBA and following a live broadcast was in no way a breach of copyright or
property rights as neither the pager nor the Internet transmission was seen to be in
competition with the first two products of the NBA.

25 Levine, Jeffrey F., ‘Meeting the Challenges of International Brand Expansion in Professional Sports:
Intellectual Property Right Enforcement in China through Treaties, Chinese Law and Cultural Mechanisms,’ 9
Texas Review of Entertainment & Sports Law 203.
26 Haelan Labs. v. Tops Chewing Gum, Inc., 202 F.2d 866 (2d Cir. 1953) in this case the Second Circuit held
that New York's common law protected a famous individual's right in the publicity value of their likeness in a
photograph. The court noted that it would be unfair for prominent individuals, such as athletes and celebrities, to
be deprived of the opportunity to make money by permitting others to use their likenesses in advertising without
27 Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broad. Co., 433 U.S. 562, 563-64 (1977).
28 At present many state jurisdictions have codified the right of publicity by creating statutes reflecting the
public policy rationale that a person has a right to control the commercial appropriation of their identity.
29 National Basketball Association (NBA) v. Motorola and STATS (New York) 480 US 941 (1987). ISSUE OF FANTASY SPORTS

Fantasy sports have captured the world’s imagination. They are the games in which the
participants’ fantasy teams as a symbolic of original teams compete against each other based
on actual professional players or teams’ statistics. Recently, there was a dispute which
highlighted the conflicting rights of online fantasy games (freedom of imagination) and the
publicity rights of Baseball players in the case of C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v.
Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P.30 In this case, the publicity right owners of the
players claimed that the names of the players cannot be used in a fantasy games as it is
protected by publicity rights and is a copyright infringement.31 TRADEMARK ISSUES

A trademark may be a word, name, symbol, device or a combination of any of the mentioned
thereof which is used to distinguish the goods of one manufacturer from those manufactured
or sold by others and also to indicate the origin of the goods. The Court, in assessing the
NFL's trade mark dilution claim, accepted that the NFL trade mark was famous and that by
modifying and linking it to the word ‘players’ would increase the likelihood of the NFL trade
mark losing its function as a unique symbol or identifier.32

These are some of the new emerging areas in sports field and sports bodies are now doing
business with the private sector and have much to learn about marketing, licensing,
sponsorship and other intellectual property issues. IMAGE RIGHTS OF ATHLETES

Image rights are the rights that a player possesses so as to control, sell, license and monetise
his or her likeness of his or her image, name, nickname, voice, signature and all other
characteristics that can be identified as unique in the player. Players whose images have
independent commercial value often assign these rights to companies dealing with these
rights. This is mostly done for tax purposes, as the revenue generated from the exploitation of

30 C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P. 443 F. Supp. 2d
1077 (E.D. Mo. 2006).
31 Holte, Ryan T., ‘The Freedom to Imagine Fantasy Sports: Applying New Ideas In Copyright Law To
Professional Athletes’ Right of Publicity, Journal, Copyright Society of the U.S.A., 201, May 2007.
32 In National Football League v. Coors Brewing Co. 99 Civ. 4627 at 496, SDNY, (4 August 1999).

the player’s image rights will be taxed at corporate tax rates, which are substantially lower
than that of the personal income tax rates.33

Typically, when a player has to represent his or her country in a senior international
competition, that player will have to sign off a contract with his or her respective national
association. Alongside relevant FIFA regulations, Regulations on the Status and Transfer of
Players respectively, these contracts mainly govern the relationship between the players and
their national associations in respect of their participation. These contracts often contain an
image rights component, which address the rights and obligations of both the player as well
as the national association in relation to the use of the player’s image.34

In view of the use of images in the Olympic Games, the IOC has precisely stated that the fact
that all rights related to the organization, marketing, broadcasting and reproduction are
retained which in turn enables this organization to ensure the continuity of the event. While
the Olympic Games are being held, participants cannot use their image unless it is with the
official sponsors. For example, the IOC banned participants in London 2012 from advertising
unofficial brands between 18 July and 15 August, where the breach of this rule leaded to
heavy penalties, ultimately resulting in disqualification from the Games.35

Participation by athletes in different sports, leads to numerous disputes as a result of the
overlap in the use of the image rights by the various organizers. When these sportspersons
are called up by the national team, the respective federations hold the sportspersons image
rights and thus make contracts with enterprises which sponsor the national team. Such
enterprises may not be the same as the sponsors of the club or sports entity to which the
sportsperson belongs, or even the sportsperson’s sponsors individually.36

As in the case of Mohamed Salah’s image rights, Mr. Salah has licensed his worldwide image
rights to an image rights company (IRC) named “MS Commercial (Cayman)” (MSCC). The
sole director of MSCC was Mr. Ramy Abbas Issa who was Mr. Salah’s lawyer and
representative. Mr. Salah had also licensed his UK image rights to a UK IRC called Salah UK

33 Jake Cohen, ‘Image rights and international footballers : the curious case of Mohamed Salah and the Egypt
Football Association’, (09 April 2019),
34 Ibid.
35 Carolina Pina, ‘The Role of IP for Athletes and Image Rights’, Garrigues, World Intellectual Property
36 Ibid.

Commercial Limited. Mr. Salah’s IRCs had entered into separate agreements with Liverpool
FC for the club to license his image and also with Adidas relating to Mr. Salah’s boot deal
with the brand. The clause incorporated was a “club context” in the former agreement and the
which refers to the use of the player’s image in conjunction with the club’s name, colours,
crest, logo, trademark and/or other identifying characteristics of the club and the “personal
context” in the latter which refers to the use of the player’s image outside of his role as a
member of his club, i.e. where Mr. Salah would be represented as an individual, rather than a
Liverpool player. Clause 4 of the Standard Premier League Contract provides clubs with
limited use of the players image in a club capacity, but clubs often contract with the player’s
image rights company / companies in order to further exploit the player’s image.

Mr. Salah, through MSCC, also had an individual endorsement and brand ambassador deal
with the mobile company, Vodafone Egypt. As part of the deal, Vodafone publicised a “Salah
World Rate” phone tariff giving subscribers eleven free minutes of talking time for each time
he scores a goal. In reference to this, Mr. Salah’s image was allegedly used without his
authorisation by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) to endorse a competitor of
Vodafone, a telecommunication firm called ‘WE’, who are an official team sponsor of the
EFA. This naturally created a significant problem for all the parties involved.

Mr. Abbas contended that there is no such right held by a national association relating to the
exploitation of a player’s image contained in any FIFA regulations, and alleged that Mr.
Abou Rida and the EFA were in breach of Article 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code,
which states:

“This code applies to every match and competition organised by FIFA. Beyond this scope, it
also applies if a match official is harmed and, more generally, if the statutory objectives of
FIFA are breached, especially with regard to forgery, corruption and doping. It also applies to
any breach of FIFA regulations that does not fall under the jurisdiction of any other body.”37

Since then, the relevant parties have been silent on this issue. Additionally, it is unclear as to
the position of Vodafone, on the use of Salah’s image by one of its competitors or whether
MSCC will seek monetary damages from the EFA for infringing upon Mr. Salah’s image.

Hence, in the absence of an express written agreement with an individual player’s IRCs or an
express written agreement with the entity collectively representing the players and granting

37 FIFA Disciplinary Code, 2017,

the national association a licence to do so, national associations should not be exploiting the
images of their international players. Footballers and their advisors should pay close attention
to the image rights clauses in the contracts with their sport’s national association.


‘Doping’ is one of the major problems faced in sports law. There are a number of issues
involved with this problem. The word Doping is derived from the Dutch word “dop” which
was the name of an alcoholic drink prepared by the warriors of Zulu to improve their
performance in the battle field. Later, in the 20th century, ‘doping’ was used in reference to
the illegal drugging of the horses which participated in races.38

Now, in the layman’s language, ‘doping’ is explained as an act of a sportsperson to indulge
into prohibited substances in order to enhance his or her performance. These prohibited
substances essentially boost muscle growth, thereby increasing the stamina and the ability of
the sports person to go faster, stronger and longer. However, indulging in uses of such
substances have also shown adverse effects on the sports person including premature heart
diseases in the worst-case scenarios. Doping was banned for the first time in 1928 by the
International Sports Federation (IF). Nevertheless, the efforts of the organization remained
ineffective as there was a lack in the mechanism for checking the implementation of the rules
made. This resulted in continued usage of these prohibited substances which later increased
in 1950s due to the introduction of synthetic hormones.39 First death case due to doping was
in 1960 of a Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen which occurred during the Olympic Games
in Rome. The testing of sports person was pressurised by international sports organizations
during the event. Organizations like UCI, FIFA and IOC were among the first organizations
who initiated the testing of the sports persons for substance use. However, these prohibited
substance testing was not effective in testing for anabolic substances. In 1974, a technology
was developed for testing for such substances that resulted in an increase in the number of
doping related cases in the sports community. This effort seemed to have decreased doping
related deaths and also cases among the community. The subsequent challenge faced by the
IF was the emergence of a new technique called ‘Blood Doping’ or ‘Blood Boosting’ which
lead to a swift shift from substance doping to blood doping. It was a technique by which the

38 Justin Healey, Doping and Drugs in Sport (Spinney Press, edn.1, 2013).
39 Deborah Healey, Sport and the Law (UNSW Press, edn. 1, 2009).

sports person would remove their blood and later re-infuse it in order to increase the capacity
of the blood to carry oxygen. This procedure was banned by IOC in 1986. In November
1999, IOC established a global non-governmental organization by the name, the World Anti-
Doping Agency (WADA) with an objective to promote, coordinate and monitor the usage of
substances in sports through a World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) across all countries
and sports. This code provides for a basic structure for anti-doping policies for the sports
organizations which includes International Standard for Testing and Investigation. There are
issues that are addressed like the results management, implementation of whereabouts
requirements, analysis of samples and management of therapeutic use exemption (TUE). The
issue of anti-doping was taken up by the United Nations in 2005 during the 33rd UNESCO
General Conference held in Paris, in the name of International Convention against Doping in
Sport. The UNESCO Member states were thereafter bound to introduce respective
regulations against doping in accordance with the WADA Code. Also, if any of the member
nations did not ratify the International Convention against Doping in Sport, they were
subjected to sanctions from the IOC. Further on, it was established that the program of
Olympic Games could include those sports that followed and implemented WADA Code.
WADA expects all major federations to adhere all its anti-doping legislations. The code also
provides an exemption for certain kind of drugs that are used for the treatment of any chronic
or acute medical situation. However, this is subjected to two limitations. Firstly, it should not
result in production of any additional enhancement in performance. Secondly, it should be
induced only when no other alternative drug or substance is available. This is also known as
Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs). The code has set out ten major Anti-Doping Rule
Violations (ADRV) amongst which, if any one or more violations is infringed, a detailed
investigation would be initiated against the sports person.


Betting, gambling and match fixing are among the other integral factors that majorly revolves
around the corruption that takes place in an event of sport and widely contributing to it. The
practice of betting is acceptable to some extent; however, when such betting leads to match
fixing, then it becomes problematic. Thus, every event of sports, big or small, has been and
has continued to be subjected to betting and match fixing. This sleaze has led to the
development of profit-making industry that indirectly is regulating sports while also defeating
the main essence of having the sport. Betting, means an act of gambling money in an
outcome of a race, game, or other unpredictable event which is as defined in the Oxford

Dictionary.40Then again, match fixing is defined as an act or practice of dishonestly
determining the outcome of a match before it is played the same dictionary.41 Both of these
activities are distinguished based on the determination of an outcome of a match. Betting
being illegal is a debatable but, match fixing remains illegal and unethical from its very
inception. In countries like UK, Australia and many states of United States, betting is legal
and the remaining states of Unites States and other countries are yet to consider betting to be
illegal. There are a lot of online gambling sites which operate and regulate the bets online
generating huge revenue for those states. The main reason for keeping betting illegal is that it
provides a basis for match-fixing. Bookies, players, teams’ officials, referees and others may
be given with incentives for deliberately failing in order to make money for the gamblers and
they receive their share thereby creating an uncontrolled consequential and mutual
relationship between betting and match fixing.42 The very first publicized case which was
acknowledged worldwide for match fixing was witnessed in 1965, when three players,
namely Tony Kay, Peter Swann and David Bronco Layne of Sheffield Football team were
convicted for conspiracy for practicing betting and match-fixing against their own team. As a
consequence, for their acts, these players were initially punished with a lifetime ban and a
sentence for four months in prison, but later, the ban was later converted to an eight-year ban.
The reports of the alleged match fixing and investigations for the same practices have been
reported in many major sports events including tennis tournaments, FIFA or cricket world


Sports injuries because of violence has been associated with sports since the times of ancient
Greeks and Romans where they engaged in combative rituals.44 However, even after so many
centuries, the society remains unable to find a way to effectively extricate unnecessary
violence from sports that it enjoys so much. The recent decades have witnessed an evolution

40 Oxford Dictionary,
41 Oxford Dictionary,
42 Questioning The Illegality Of Betting For Sports, San Manuel Casino,
43 The history of match-fixing ESPN,
44 Bradley C. Nielsen, Note, Controlling Sports Violence: Too Late for the Carrots — Bring on the Big Stick, 74
Iowa L. Rev. 681, 694 (1989) (explaining that legislators did not want to spend federal funds to control sports

of civil lawsuits between sports participants for tortious actions.45 The success of civil

lawsuits, although limited, represents a sign of encouragement for that society which is

willing to hold sports participants accountable for their actions. Commentators have been

quick to devise non-prosecution methods oriented to curb sports violence, including the

implementation of self-regulation by sports leagues, the establishment of a federal

professional sports violence commission and the creation of a sports arbitration court.

However, recent developments have indicated that there are arguments advanced for a
criminal liability regime.46


In the words of Ann Oakley, “Gender is a matter of culture; it refers to the social
classification of men and women into ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. That the people are male

or female can usually be judged by referring to biological evidence and that they are

masculine or feminine cannot be judged in the same way, the criteria are cultural, differing
with time and place.”47 Gender discrimination in the athletic industry has long been a

controversial topic. Even Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics,

once stated in 1896 that no matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, she as an organism
is not cut out to sustain certain shocks.48 The perspective of women being the weaker beings
hasn’t changed much since then. Sports psychologists have found out that the women

participating in sports are often faced with issues like homophobia, gender verification, media

coverage for the wrong reasons etc. For the 2012 Olympic Games, officials implemented a

test of testosterone levels as the rule was to disqualify athletes from women's events if they

have testosterone levels equivalent to the normal male range, which is 7 to 30 nanomoles per

litre in their blood. The top range for women would be just below 3 nanomoles per litre. It

was given that only athletes with complete androgen insensitivity will be allowed to compete.
Having resemblance to features which was labelled ‘manly’ seemed to be an enough reason

to being accused of having an extra Y chromosome and being treated like a criminal. This act

completely ignores the ethnic characteristics of different racial profiles across diverse

45 Yates, Jeff and William Gillespie, ‘The Problem of Sports Violence and the Criminal Prosecution Solution’,
Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 12:145, 2002; See Gary Norman Jahn, Comment, ‘Civil
Liability: An Alternative to Violence in Sporting Events’, 15 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 243, 244– 49 (1988); See, e.g.,
Cameron Jay Rains, Note, ‘Sports Violence: A Matter of Societal Concern’, 55 Notre Dame L. Rev. 796 (1980).
46 Lassiter, Christo, ‘Lex Sportiva: Thoughts Towards A Criminal Law of Competitive Contact Sport’, 22 St.
John’s J. Legal Comm. 35 (2007).
47 Oakley, Ann. Sex, Gender and Society (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2015).
48 Deshpandey and Vishwas Manohar, "Gender Discrimination in Sports." 545-47 (International Journal of
Physical Education, Sports and Health, no. 3, 2016).

continents. In 1990, for the first time in the history of the International Olympic Committee, a
woman was elected to the Executive Board49 and it was for the first time in 2012 Olympics,
that every country had sent at least one woman.50


As quoted by Findlay, “Litigation creates irreparable harm in the closely-knit amateur sports
community, where the stakeholders can only work together effectively with a high degree of
trust.”51 Thus, it is pointed out that traditional court proceedings or litigation is not the answer
for sports dispute resolution. During a hearing of a petition in federal court for a TRO against
the suspensions, counsel on behalf of the NBA explained the significance of Rule 12A,
wherein it is the swift discipline, that is the swift punishment that is absolutely essential not
only to prevent players from engaging in the same kind of conduct tomorrow night, but to
preserve the essence and integrity of the game and to assure the fans that the game is going to
be played according to a set of rules.52 Hence, dispute resolution in sports is preferred to be
in-house (that is within the sports community) by methods such as negotiation, arbitration
and mediation which have proven to be effective tools. Fairness and confidentiality are the
keys for the arbitrators, negotiators and mediators.


Different from theoretical laws, sports law is a pure law and the realm of sports law is
relatively new to our country. Sports law is not only applicable to the field of sports, but also
to physical education and other relevant areas. Sports law has a well-developed pattern of
globalized regulations and this law also overlaps with all major substantive laws. These laws
have been applied to the context of sports involving public order, safety, drugs, disciplinary
measures, conduct and other wider issues relating to restraint of trade, anti-competitive
behaviour, match fixing and the commercial exploitation of sports. In India, ‘sports’ is

49 International Olympics Committee, Factsheet: Women in the Olympic Movement (2013).
50 Gender Equality in Athletics and Sports - Feminist Majority Foundation,
51 Melnitzer, Julius, ‘This Sporting Life: Amateur Sports’, Canadian Lawyer, March 1999, at p. 22.
52 Ewing v. Stern, No. 97 Civ. 3578 (JSR), 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24206 (S.D.N.Y. May 16, 1997) at 35- 36.
see Yovel, Jonathan, ‘Legal Formalism, Institutional Norms, and the Morality of Basketball,’ Virginia Sports
and Entertainment Law Journal Fall 2008 Vol.8:1.

provided for in the State List of the Seventh Schedule (Entry 33) of the Constitution of India.
Under Article 77 of the Constitution of India, Union of India in exercise of its executive
functions in terms of the Allocation of Business Rules, created a separate Ministry of Youth
Affairs and Sports for the said purpose.53

Despite various federations that provide sports facilities in India, one of the main reasons for
the lack of uniform regulations for sports in India. There is an immediate need for a
legislation that governs sports and brings the various authorities related to sports under one
roof. The Government of India set up the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports to create
infrastructure and promote capacity building for broad-basing sports which facilitates for
achieving excellence in various competitive events at the international and national levels.
The primary responsibility of the various National Sports Federations (NSFs) is Sports
promotion. These are autonomous in nature. The Sports Law in India is regulated and
governed by various existing laws, policies and authorities, but there is no single legislation
which brings all of these under one single umbrella.

One significant problem in Indian sports today is the dispute resolution within National
Sports Federations (NSFs). The types of dispute referred to are disputes and grievances
arising out of selection procedure of athletes for representation at various national and
international forums, bans imposed due to fraud, disciplinary issues against the athletes,
gender inequality, maintenance and submission of medical records and also issues regarding
financial support.54

Being legally autonomous, disputes are so far as possible resolved internally. This means that
the disputes should be resolved within a suitable forum that is established by the relevant
National Sports Federation (NSF). However, in India the NSFs have failed to establish
satisfactory internal mechanisms and forums to address this issue. This problem is
compounded by their additional failure to incorporate an arbitration clause within their
regulations which is provides for a final recourse before the Court of Arbitration for Sport
(CAS) to which the athletes are entitled to. As a result of which, athletes are often left in an

53 One of the objects of the Ministry is to work in close coordination with national federations that regulate
sports. Sports in India took a leap forward with 9th Asian Games in Delhi when The Ministry of Youth Affairs
& Sports was initially set up as the Department of Sports in 1982.
54 Aahna Mehrotra and Purvasha Mansharamani, ‘The need for better dispute resolution systems in Indian sport
and the Government’s new Guidelines’, , (21 November 2016),

unenviable position of having to approach the national courts if they wish to resolve their


The failure of NSFs to provide adequate internal dispute resolution mechanisms was brought

to the forefront and received national attention by two of the recent high-profile cases. The

first case was about the female boxer Sarita Devi, wherein , a senior advocate, Rajiv Dutta
filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)55. In this case, Rajiv Dutta vs. Union of India,56 the

PIL challenged the decision of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) which had

suspended Devi for refusing to accept a bronze medal at the Asian Games. Dutta contented

that these federations should take note of the rules and regulations of CAS and then decide on
the order. The second case concerned the former Olympic wrestler, Sushil Kumar57, who

filed a writ petition against selection procedure adopted by the Wrestling Federation of India
(WFI) contenting that it was arbitrary for India’s representation at the 2016 Olympics and

thus made the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports a party to the said dispute.

As a response to the case filed by Sushil Kumar, the Ministry issued a new set of guidelines
titled, “Safeguarding the Interests of Sportspersons and Provision of Effective Grievance
Redressal System in the Constitution of National Sports Federations”.58 The Guidelines direct

all NSFs to ensure that they:

• Established an effective, transparent and fair Grievance Redressal System to

safeguard the interests of the sportspersons; and

• To include within their constitution, the right for the aggrieved sportspersons to

appeal their case to the CAS.

The Delhi High Court observed that it would not interfere with the NSF’s decision unless the
NSF has acted in ‘an arbitrary or capricious or perverse manner’ while exercising its

jurisdiction. Despite the mandate by the National Sports Development Code, 2011 (NSDC),

55 M Kulkarni, ‘Devi’s Public Interest Litigation & The Call For Clearer Dispute Resolution Guidelines In
India’, (20 May 2015),
56 Rajiv Dutta vs. Union of India & Ors., W.P.(C)
57 Sushil Kumar vs. Union of India W.P.(C) 4514/2016,
58 Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Safeguarding the Interests of Sportspersons and Provision of Effective
Grievance Redressal System in the Constitution of National Sports Federations published on 17th June 2016,

most of India’s NSFs do not have written rules, which makes it harder for the courts to
determine the term arbitrary, capricious or perverse. The Guidelines clearly establishes that it
is the responsibility of the NSFs to incorporate rules or bye-laws, appropriate and coherent
internal mechanisms to resolve all grievances.

In the case of Rajiv Dutta v. Union of India, where Devi was banned at the Asian Games by
AIBA for breaching the AIBA Disciplinary Code by refusing to accept the bronze medal.59
However, she was unable to file an appeal against the ban with CAS as the NSF failed to
provide for such a right within its regulations. It is important to note that, the court in this
case acknowledged the importance of the right for athletes to appeal to CAS while the courts
had previously refused to interfere with the internal functioning of the NSFs on several
occasions. As a final point, the Government has made other efforts to improve sports
regulation and fight injustice by proposing the National Sports Ethics Commission Bill 2016,
which aims to improve the integrity of sports in India along with the National Sports Policy,

Another vital problem to be addressed in India is that of gender discrimination. We cannot
deny the fact that sports in India continue to be male-dominated and women have been shut
out from many sports, directly or indirectly. Indian women are still viewed as the weaker sex.
On the contrary, women have shown exemplary results in many sports and brought various
laurels to the country. Women like Ashwini Nachappa, Deepika Kumari, Krishna Poonia and
Sita Sahu have outshone their male counterparts in their respective sport fields, yet are still
unknown to many.

However, there seems to be no end to problems of female athletes. Sexual harassment is
something that is faced by a lot of athletes. Coaches and people in authority in sport are using
power over athletes for sexual purposes.60 In 2011, an official of the Tamil Nadu Boxing
Association was arrested on charges of sexual harassment.61 In 2009, a female athlete had
committed suicide because she was being sexually harassed by her coach.62 Studies have

59 M Kulkarni; “Indian Boxer Refuses Bronze Medal At Asian Games, OCA Issues Warning”,,
published 14 October 2014,

60 Emily Robert, Gender Relations in Sport (Sense Publishers, edn.1, 2013).
61 Times of India, Boxing association official arrested on sexual harassment charges, 2011, http://Boxing
association official arrested on sexual harassment charges.
62 Adrija Bose, 7 times Indian Sportswomen Reported Sexual Harassment but Nothing Changed,

shown that between 2-8% of minor-age athletes are victims of sexual abuse within the
context of sport.63 On an analysis of 159 cases of sexual abuse in sports, the perpetrators of
the abuse were coaches, teachers and instructors in 98% of the cases.64

Article 14 of the Constitution of India mandates equality before law and Article 15(1)
prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth.
Equality of opportunity for all is given under Article 16. Article 39(a) talks about equal rights
to adequate means of livelihood. Despite all of this, gender equality in areas like sports still
looks like a distant dream because these are Constitutional rights only aim at strengthening
and empowering women in relation to equality of opportunities in the social sphere. The
National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001 is also important in this context as it
aims to bring about the advancement, development, and empowerment of women.65 India is
also a signatory to the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women) wherein Article10 (g) of the CEDAW guidelines contains a
provision which explicitly, addresses sports in this purview.

The provisions to prevent sexual harassment of women were introduced under the National
Sports Development Code of India, 2011 and Hockey India adopted a Sexual Harassment
policy which was in line with the Sports Code. Most of the other sporting federations in India
have failed to adopt such a policy. The Supreme Court in its landmark judgment in the case
of Vishakha and Ors v. State of Rajasthan,66 issued guidelines that defined sexual harassment
and stipulated conditions for its prevention and redressal. This further led to the drafting of
the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act,
2013. It was observed that workplace included stadiums, sports institutes, sports complexes
or competition or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other
related activities in the context of sports. It is shocking to note that many sport federations
and other organisations have not implemented the provisions of this Act.

Doping is another prevalent issue in India. Our country is one of the Foundation members of
WADA and adopted the WADA Code on March 5th, 2003 at Copenhagen, Denmark. Along

63 Sandra L Kirby et al., The Dome of Silence (Fernwood, edn.1, 2000).
64 Celia H. Brackenridge et al., The Characteristics of Sexual Abuse in Sport: A Multidimensional Scaling
Analysis of Events Described in Media Reports, 385-406 (International Journal of Sport and Exercise
Psychology, edn.6, 2008).
65 The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001 by Ministry of Women and Child Development,
Government of India,
66 Vishakha and Ors v. State of Rajasthan AIR 1997 SC 3011.

this line, India is also a signatory to the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping. In
accordance with the Declaration, National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) was established in
2005 as a society that follows the principles and the framework of the WADA Code. It also
framed the Anti-Doping Rules (ADR) of National Anti-Doping Agency in 2008.67 The
primary objective of this agency is not only to implement the policies of World Anti-Doping
Agency but also to promote research, education and ensuring mass awareness about the use
of substances in sports and its negative effects. However, the current scenario depicts that the
Anti-doping Laws are not as effective as it was aimed to be. According to the Doping
Violation Report published in 2015 by WADA, 117 athletes from India tested positive for the
banned substances and methods. The number of athletes has only been increasing every year.
In 2016, an athlete named Narsingh Yadav tested positive for the use of banned substances
for both the samples, i.e. Sample A and Sample B while representing India in the Summer
Olympics held in Rio de Janerio. However, the charges against him were cleared by NADA
but was challenged by WADA in the Court of Arbitration of Sports who after hearing the
case, slapped a four-year ban against Narsingh for doping. In light of the evidence and
justifications by statistics regarding the prevailing bans on Indian Athletes, it would not be
wrong to say that doping law is in dire need of meaningful amendments in order to preserve
the essence of sports and the reputation of the nation which the athletes are representing.

Betting and gambling have been playing a major role in Indian history and were regulated
through Public Gambling Act, 1867 post-independence which prohibited all of these
activities. These activities were taken as the states subject under the Seventh Schedule under
the Constitution which enabled the states to regulate betting and gambling in appropriate
ways. In the present scenario, distinctions in sports have also been made by the states with
respect to the interpretation of ‘games of skill’. Legality of horse racing and card games has
been contended before the Supreme Court68 in various cases. With respect to match fixing in
India, only the CBI reports on match fixing allegations tend to give some shape to the
definition of such a crime. Number of players like Mohammad Azharuddin, S. Sreesanth,
Ajay Jadeja, Ajay Sharma, Manoj Prabhakar have been convicted for match fixing and have
faced bans for the same. In case of an absence of any particular legislation regarding this,
players have been charged under the Indian Penal Code for the offence of Cheating under
Section 420. However, the interpretation of match fixing does not completely satisfy and

67 NADA-National Anti-Doping Agency,
68 Dr. K.R Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1996 SC 1153; Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana, AIR
1968 SC 825.

adhere to the conditions provided under IPC. In the case of Ahmed v. State of Rajasthan69,
the court addressed match fixing in the light of IPC and was of the opinion that it was not
clear as to whether ‘dishonest concealment of facts’ with an intention would secure wrongful
gains to themselves can be construed under IPC. Further, another legislation also focuses on
these practices called the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The lack of having a properly
discussed, debated and deliberated legislation to control match fixing has resulted in the
uprising of these practices.

Intellectual Property issues is the new arena for challenges. In India, the Government tried to
streamline the sports industry by keeping every parties interest and the public at large in mind
by introducing the National Sports Ethics Commission Bill, 2016 which aims to bring about a
legislative reform to help improve the integrity of sports in India. As of now, there are
various acts and conventions governing general IP issues in our country which on a wider
stroll govern that of sports sector as well. It is advisable to register the copyright in India in
regard to any sport related aspects, owing to the rampant piracy and copyright infringement.
The Copyright Act, 1957 provides for civil and criminal remedies against the infringers.70
Other areas like the protection of the sports organisations or athletes trademarks like logos,
slogans, team names, etc. can be dealt under the Trademarks Act, 1999. In India, there is no
separate statute for the protection of trade secrets and especially in sports industry there is
always a possibility of some information being confidential which entails protection.

Sports law contains all the provisions as introduced by the State or by any athletic authority
that concerns sport and its athletic activities. It regulates the relations that are developed in
the frame of athletic activity on a national and international scale. The issues that are
plaguing the sports arena are numerous. If there exists a continuous failure then sports would
become devoid of the most important things which includes the fairness and safety of the
players. This rampant commercialisation and selfishness that is prevailing is killing the spirit
of sportsmanship. Thus, we need to protect our sportspersons and also provide for specific
rules and regulations to govern the arena of sports issues.

69 Ahmed v. State of Rajasthan, 1967 Cri LJ 1053(Raj).
70 Sharada Kalamadi, ‘Intellectual Property and the Business of Sports Management,’ 17 Journal of Intellectual
Property Rights 437-442 (2012).

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