Sports Law: No Sport without Politics?
Congress Centre, conference hall D2
According to the Olympic Charter, sports federations must abide by principles of political neutrality and non-discrimination in order to ensure athletes enjoy equal access to competitions. For decades, it seemed an indisputable fact that all participants of the Olympic Movement (and above all, the International Olympic Committee itself) respected such fundamental principles lying at the heart of all competitions. However, on 28 February 2022, the International Olympic Committee published its recommendations to no longer allow Russian athletes, sports clubs, or national sports federation teams to compete. These were followed by similar actions taken by international and continental sports federations. As a result, it has become necessary to take another look at how the aforementioned fundamental principles are observed. Values such as political neutrality and non-discrimination have de facto been replaced by elastic doctrines related to the integrity of competitions and the safety of competitors, as if they were in dire need of protection. The proportionality of such a weighing of interests (which has determined that the removal of Russian athletes, clubs, and national teams was the only possible option), certainly appears objectively problematic. Indeed, it does not appear as though there is any regulatory (i.e., predictable) basis within sporting federations to enact such an exclusion. Efforts to contest these decisions at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have so far resulted in what can justifiably be called a selective form of enforcement. Initial outcomes are not based on strict compliance with the IOC’s regulatory framework (or that of international and continental sports federations). What’s more, they ignore the principles of political neutrality and non-discrimination, and fail to demonstrate a convincing legal argument. We are witness to discrimination, suspension based on citizenship, and other various kinds of restrictions based on the unipolar political views of the organizers of international and continental sports competitions. These not only violate the personal rights of athletes, but also their human right to work. Clearly, this has all genuinely undermined the legitimacy of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement and global sport. What do these fundamental principles mean, as viewed through the prism of the Olympic Charter and the regulations of international and continental sports federations? The aforementioned elastic doctrines of competition integrity and athlete safety were used by the International Olympic Committee and international and continental sports federations to justify the banning of Russian athletes and sporting bodies. What should be the content of these doctrines? When making its resolutions on the removal by international and continental sports federations of Russian athletes and sporting bodies, what reasoning was adopted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport? What tools need to be employed to assess the IOC’s recommendations on the partial admission of Russian athletes to international and continental sports competitions in relation to the principles set out in the Olympic Charter? What is the likelihood that international and continental sports federations will implement the admission criteria?
Associate Professor of the Department of Theory of State and Law, Scientific Supervisor of the Master's Program "Lawyer in the Field of Sports Law", St. Petersburg State University
PhD Student, National Research University Higher School of Economics
Deputy General Director of the FHR, Managing Director of the VHL, Arbiter of the NCCA, ICAC at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation
Candidate of Legal Sciences, Lawyer, International Bar Association "St. Petersburg"; Member of The Russian Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA
Arbitrator, National Center for Sports Arbitration; Head of the Department of Theory of Law and Comparative Law, National Research University Higher School of Economics (online)
Deputy Secretary General, The Football Union of Russia; Arbitrator, The National Sports Arbitration Center; Head of the Department of Sports Law, Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL)
Deputy Director of the Legal Department, Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation