Friday, May 18, 2012

Conference on Law, Policy and the Olympic Movement, Part III

Interesting points about the future of the Olympic movement and its regulation were raised on the second day of Ithaca College's third conference on Law, Policy and the Olympic Movement, May 16-18. Karolina Tetlak, a Lecturer in Tax Law at Warsaw University, explained that any officially accredited person coming to the UK for the London 2012 Olympics will be tax-exempt, as will any athlete.

An interesting discussion was held around how Her Majesty's Treasury can reconcile this exemption with its normal requirement that any visiting athlete must pay tax on any earnings whilst in the UK. It was explained that although it is not a requirement of the IOC that host cities offer tax exemption, its 'Candidate Procedure and Questionnaire' for potential hosts asks questions about what taxes the Olympic Games would be subject to if they were held in that country, whilst requiring cities to sign an 'undertaking' that any statement made in the questionnaire is legally binding. Tetlak explained that it is often difficult for cities and countries to pull out of offering tax exemptions, explaining that Poland's new government had threatened to remove a tax exemption granted to UEFA for the Euro 2012 by the previous administration. UEFA apparently mentioned that Germany would be able to take over their co-hosting duties and the tax exemption remained.

An interesting discussion was had about whether in the future, the Olympics will continue to attract the same number of competing bidding cities, given that whilst the profits of the IOC have been increasing over time, host cities report losses more often than not. It was agreed that it would take either a failed Games or a lack of bidders before the IOC would consider giving some of its profits to host cities.

Keynote speaker Professor Ian Blackshaw, a Member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), revealed that a CAS decision that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case of footballer Ömer Riza is being appealed under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects the right to a fair trial. The basic facts of the case are that Riza terminated his contract with Trabzonspor Kulübü Dernegi, alleging that the Turkish club had breached his contract and joined an English club. After filing a claim against Trabzonspor with FIFA, Riza's case was referred back to the Turkish football association (TFF), as all disputes must be heard by a TFF arbitration board under its regulations. The TFF arbitration board held that Riza had wrongfully terminated his employment contract, resulting in an appeal to the CAS, which held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. Riza then appealed to the Swiss Federal Court, which agreed with the CAS. The details of the case will be explained in more detail in the May edition of World Sports Law Report.

Hilary Findlay of Brock University highlighted how the Athlete Biological Passport works and highlighted a number of potential issues with it. Firstly, she pointed out that the passport reverses the presumption of innocence by requiring athletes to prove their innocence if their biological markers indicate that doping might have taken place. It was questioned whether this is the right approach to policing against doping in sport. It was also pointed out that if athletes can still micro-dose, as long as they stay within their biological markers and that if an athlete is already doping, the biological passport might actually require athletes to continue doping in order to ensure that their biological markers continue to appear 'normal'!

There were many other interesting issues raised - far too many to list here. Thank you very much for inviting me, Ithaca!

Andy Brown


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