Protecting Athletes - Restoring legal parity between Anti-Doping Authorities and Athletes

9 October 2017

When people think of Professional Athletes, they often think of big wages, sponsorship deals and wealth. What many people don’t appreciate is that the jurisdiction of Doping Authorities extends beyond professional sports and into the ranks of amateurs across the UK. Consider the UK Anti-Doping Rule 1.2.1 around jurisdiction which identifies those who are subject to the rules:

All Athletes…who are members of the NGB and/or of member or affiliate organisations or licensees of the NGB (including any clubs, teams, associations or leagues)…All Athletes…participating in such capacity in Events, Competitions and other activities organised, convened, authorised or recognised by the NGB or any of its member or affiliate organisations or licensees (including any clubs, teams associations or leagues), wherever held…”

Many Doping Sanctions are imposed on Athletes who compete for the love of the sport, for minimal or no financial reward. For these individuals, defending an allegation of doping can have restrictive financial implications.

The cost of a ‘B Sample’ analysis is now over a thousand pounds. The cost of testing a potentially contaminated supplement can run into hundreds of pounds, often reaching thousands. This is over and above any legal fees.

The implications are that the majority of Athletes (Professional or Amateur) charged with Doping offences do not have the financial resources to afford a decent defence. Many rely on pro-bono representation.

What does a decent defence involve? Well, firstly, an experienced Lawyer, one who has a fundamental understanding of the World Anti-Doping Code, how it applies to his client’s case, and a good knowledge of how the Anti-Doping Authorities operate in their client’s jurisdiction.

Secondly, thorough preparation. The planning and strategy of defending a Doping charge is vital. The Athlete must have a clear position about their case and direct their resources towards that. Adopting a scattergun approach by exploring every possible avenue is wasteful. Doping panels appreciate both parties taking a focused approach to the issues.

There is an inequality of arms between Athletes and Anti-Doping Authorities. To redress this issue, Athlete’s should consider the following steps:

  • Make an informed choice of legal representative (either paid or pro-bono). Look for Lawyers with a history in Anti-Doping work.
  • Prepare the case in as much detail as possible.
  • Keep the defence focused on the crucial issues.
  • Enquire with the Anti-Doping Authority as to whether they will assist with the testing of supplements.
  • Keep a sample of all supplements taken, to ensure there is some to test.
  • Keep a paper trail of all supplements purchased.

Following these steps will assist an Athlete to robustly contest a Doping Charge, and gives them the best possible chance of minimising the length of any ban.

This article was written by Joseph Paterson, Associate in the Regulatory Department.

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