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World Sports Law Report

Current Issue (March 2014)

Volume: 12 Issue: 3

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About World Sports Law Report

The monthly law journal providing guidance on all aspects of sports law, including licensing and sports data, anti-doping and doping sanctions, TV and broadcasting rights, sport technology, players agents, disciplinary measures, sports integrity, sports betting, player contracts, intellectual property, transfer regulations, sports sponsorship and marketing, and governance, as well as coverage of key legal cases, sporting regulations and governing bodies including the IOC, UEFA and FIFA and sporting events such as London 2012. / read more

Another WADA? 

I am writing this the day before our seventh Tackling Doping in Sport conference, which this year will be held at Wembley. It is hard to believe how much the conference has grown since we sat in the offices of Charles Russell listening to Dwain Chambers talk about the effects of a doping ban on the athlete. We are now about to enter a new era of anti-doping, with the introduction of the toughest ever World Anti-Doping Code on 1 January next year.

One interesting aspect to come out of my discussions regarding our main news article, is that sport and gambling operators don’t want another World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to deal with the issue of the manipulation of sporting results. WADA receives a lot of criticism. People have told me that the WADA model for policing against drug use has failed, pointing to figures which suggest that upwards of 90% of doping positives involve inadvertent doping.

However, ask the critics to come up with an alternative system and they are usually stumped. One of the attractions of sport is that athletes are competing only with the body they are born with and the skills they have learned. If athletes are doping, this ruins that perception and the attraction to the spectator. Sport therefore needs doping rules in order to ensure that athletes are competing on a level playing field. Until somebody comes up with a viable alternative, the WADA model is the best way of doping this.

Similarly, if somebody off the field of play is manipulating a sporting event in any way for financial gain, this ruins the attraction for the spectator. If, as research suggests, 80% of the global sports betting market is the unregulated sector, then we potentially have a huge problem. Sport does need rules on how it should interact with the betting industry, and perhaps an outside body would be best to administer the setting of such rules.

As the regulated betting industry consistently points out, it is already regulated and doesn’t need further regulation. It has also been consistent in pointing out that it has as much to lose from an illegally fixed game as sport, as fixed events in sport skew their odds and affect their profits.

However, nobody has fully examined the relationship between regulated operators and sport, or the relationship between regulated operators and their clients - especially the larger ones - and whether this could affect sporting results. The ‘Fighting Against the Manipulation of Sports Competitions’ report is the first scientific study to fully examine the extent of this problem and the viable alternatives.

Would it be such a bad thing to have a Sports Anti-Manipulation Agency that set rules for both sport and gambling operators on what can and cannot be done? Until somebody comes up with a viable alternative, it might be the best way to bring the sports manipulation issue out into the open.

Andy Brown

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