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Sports Law Ledger - Monday 17 August 2020

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Catchup on some of the latest sports law and integrity updates from Australia, New Zealand & around the world (copyright remains the property of respective owners):


Integrity, Anti-Doping - Softballer receives sanction

Softball Australia has imposed a two-year ban on athlete James Darby for the presence of a metabolite of a prohibited substance. Mr Darby, who competed in the NSW Men’s Open softball team, returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) from an in-competition doping control test on 13 January 2019.

Read sanction

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Surf Life Saving: Surf life saver suspended for nine months for anti-doping rule violation

The Sports Tribunal has suspended surf life saver John Elsmore for nine months after testing positive for cannabis. Mr Elsmore’s suspension is backdated to 14 March 2020.  Mr Elsmore was tested after winning the Surf Canoe Long Course – Open Male event at the 2020 TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships.

Read sanction

Integrity, Member Protection - Gymnastics: Australian gymnastics abuse review to focus on culture and not individual cases

"The scope of this review does not extend to the investigation of individual allegations nor findings being made against specific individuals,” the human rights commission said

Read report

Read about the Independent Review of Gymnastics in Australia

Integrity, Member Protection - Rugby League: NRL to take 'strongest possible' action against proven Naden abusers

NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo has promised to enforce the "strongest possible" penalties if spectators are proven to have racially abused Panthers winger Brent Naden.

Read report

Integrity, Member Protection, Gambling - Rugby League: Anti-gambling body wants players to have option to withdraw from same-game multis

Australia's chief anti-gambling body has called for both NRL teams and players to be given the right to withdraw themselves from use in same-game multi-bets, warning that sports codes are facilitating online abuse of their players.

Read report

Integrity, Member Protection, Gambling - Australian athletes speak out against abuse from angry gamblers

Australian sportsmen from several codes have spoken out against gamblers who abuse players on social media when they lose bets after an Australian Rules player said he had received death threats at the weekend.

Read report

Integrity, Governance - Rugby League: Kevin Proctor to deny charge after becoming first NRL player sent off for biting

A furious Kevin Proctor will deny a biting charge at the NRL judiciary after his case was sent straight to the panel by the match review committee on Sunday. Proctor faces a lengthy ban from the NRL if found guilty on Tuesday night, after becoming the first player in the league’s history to be sent off for biting.

Read report

Integrity, Governance - Australian Rules Football: WA premier unhappy with Swans, AFL after hub breach

The AFL has apologised to the WA government for the incident, in which Taylor was sprung bringing his girlfriend into the Joondalup Resort, the training and accommodation hub where Sydney has been observing the mandatory 14 days of self-isolation upon entry into the state, which has led to a season-long ban and a hefty fine for the club.

Read report

Governance - Rugby League: How decades after Murdoch and Packer destroyed the popular appeal of a game created for the masses, Peter V’landys is putting rugby league back on top

For decades, rugby league had been led by diplomats with sophisticated wardrobes and vocabularies, who were eaten alive by Sydney’s shark tank of tabloid journalists and shock jocks. Peter V’landys’s appointment was a moment of self-determination for a working-class sport: their new leader was a true believer in egalitarianism.

Read report (long read)

Governance - Horse Racing: Review into whip rule reaches boiling point

The Australian Jockeys' Association is calling for national uniformity on whip rule penalties after a controversial protest was dismissed at Morphettville on Saturday, adding further heat to the whip rule debate that has long been the subject of a Racing Australia review.

Read report

Governance, Stakeholder Management - Football/Soccer: FFA Teams Up With Football Coaches Australia

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Football Coaches Australia (FCA) to enhance coach development.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Rights - Most Australian athletes believe Olympic podium is not the place for protest

Olympic venues and podiums should be off-limits for any form of protest, most Australian athletes believe. But Australia’s Olympians want opportunities to express themselves in other forums, possibly at the athletes’ village, media conferences or via social media.

Read report

Athlete Rights - Rugby League: Warriors 'fuming' over stolen identities

Claims have been made that members of the public have been masquerading as Warriors players at pubs and parties around the Central Coast. And the club says it wants the community to know the COVID breaches do not involve their players.

Read report

IP - Australian Rules Football: Aboriginal flag disappears from Indigenous round

Sources close to the situation indicated the decision to remove the flag from this year’s round was related to the “exclusive copyright license” held over the flag by WAM Clothing, which is detailed on the company’s website.

Read report

Commercial, IP - Deputy Premier takes aim at Opera House over logo 'cash grab'

The Swans, Roosters and Sixers could be the next teams asked to cough up after the NBL declared it was no longer "cost-viable" for the Sydney Kings to keep using the logo they've had since 1988, which features a resemblance of the Opera House sails.

Read report

Commercial, Contracts - Rugby Union: Waratahs to slash player wage bill by up to $1m to stay afloat

The NSW Waratahs are preparing to slash their player wage bill by as much as $1 million next year and operate well under the salary cap in a stark reality chairman Roger Davis said "everyone will have to come to grips with".

Read report

Contracts - Rugby League: Paul McGregor parts ways with Dragons

The St George Illawarra Dragons and coach Paul McGregor amicably parted ways at the conclusion of Friday's night Round 14 game against the Parramatta Eels.

Read club statement

Contracts, Disputes - Football/Soccer: Letter that shows Fowler's deal was terminated 'without notice'

Liverpool great Robbie Fowler was told in a letter from Brisbane Roar's lawyers that his contract was being terminated without notice, alleging comments he made in a television interview damaged the reputation of the A-League team before a worldwide audience.

Read report

Contracts, Disputes - Football/Soccer: Roar dispute Fowler’s wrongful dismissal claim as fight goes to FIFA

Brisbane Roar have refuted accusations by former coach Robbie Fowler that he was wrongfully dismissed, insisting a club statement announcing the Liverpool icon’s June departure was “mutually agreed”.

Read report

Commercial, IP - Rugby League: Teaming up with the NRL to tackle counterfeit goods

The NRL is piloting the ‘Trust Badge’ on two of its official online merchandise stores as part of IP Australia’s Smart Trade Mark initiative. The Badge verifies the websites to help consumers identify authentic brands.

Read NRL media release

Media Rights - Rugby Union: Rugby Australia unveils largest and most comprehensive Rugby rights ever assembled

The current agreement expires on 31 December 2020 as Rugby in Australia is set to enter a new exciting era in its storied history with proven broadcast performers as well as exciting new content amongst the offering. The rights include a variety of options for broadcasters or the opportunity to own rights to the entire package.

Read RA media release

Major Events - Australian Rules Football: Grand final call about more than money as states intensify lobbying

The AFL will develop a set of key criteria to assess various state government proposals to host the grand final if, as expected, the door eventually slams shut on the match being played at the MCG in Melbourne.

Read report

Venues - Tennis: Tennis Australia launch plans for new state of the art stadium in heart of Sydney CBD

Global tennis royalty could become regular visitors to Sydney if plans for a new indoor sports and entertainment arena in the heart of the city get the green light.

Read report

Disputes, Negligence - Football/Soccer: Punched for rebuking racism, a young player takes Football NSW to court

A promising soccer player who was assaulted by a teammate in a one-punch attack after rebuking him for a racist comment is suing him, the club and Football NSW for negligence.

Read report

Disputes, Insurance - Cricket: Starc reaches settlement in $1.53 million IPL payout fight

Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc has reached an in-principle insurance settlement in his $1.53 million fight for missing the 2018 Indian Premier League through injury. The settlement came on Monday, just two days before the case was due to be heard in the Victorian County Court.

Read report

Gambling - Sport's union with betting is never trumpeted but cheques are always cashed

In receiving a slice of the wagering pie on top of monies generated from the ubiquitous sports betting adverts – sums that venture into the tens of millions – administrative bodies and broadcasters are very much in bed with the wagering industry.

Read report


Integrity, Member Protection - Gymnastics: British Gymnastics chief executive admits organisation has 'fallen short' in duty to protect members

The chief executive of British Gymnastics admits it has “fallen short” in protecting its members and backs calls for the creation of an ombudsman in the wake of the abuse scandal which has engulfed the sport.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Why 2012 London Olympics drug cheats are still being caught

That athletes from the 2012 Olympics are still being caught cheating might come as surprise. But the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC 2015) provides for a 10-year window following a competition to test athletes’ samples for a possible doping violation. This is known as retrospective testing.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Mastermind behind the Russian doping scandal, now in hiding, speaks from secret location in the US

Seated in front of a plain white blind and wearing dark glasses and a balaclava, Grigory Rodchenkov reveals there is so much more to be exposed.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Tennis: Retired tennis player admits lying to CAS about doping

Four months after the high point of his career -- the final of the 2005 French Open -- Mariano Puerta tested positive for etilefrine, a banned cardiorespiratory stimulant. He had also been caught in 2003 for the use of a banned anabolic steroid. Puerta was initially suspended for eight years, but the penalty was reduced to two years thanks to a defense strategy that he said "was a lie."

Read report

Governance - Football/Soccer: High court can referee TTFA v FIFA case

FIFA has lost its bid to have a lawsuit by a group of former Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) executive members over their removal dismissed before it even kicked off. High Court Judge Carol Gobin ruled that FIFA's rule, which it says the TTFA agreed to when it joined the organisation, could not oust the jurisdiction of the local courts to determine whether its rules are in conformity to the Act of Parliament, which established the TTFA.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Rights - US College Sports: US senators propose sweeping changes to NCAA athlete rights

US senators Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal are spearheading an effort to create a federal law that would grant college athletes a range of new rights and enable them to receive what they call ‘fair and equitable compensation’. The proposed ‘College Athletes Bill of Rights’ calls for a nationwide lifting of restrictions on student-athletes at all US universities, including a provision for all competitors to market their commercial rights in individual endorsement and group licensing deals ‘with minimal restrictions'.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Rights - Cycling: Riders’ union hold protest in early kilometres of the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné 

The aim of the protest was to highlight recent crashes and ask for 'round table talks' to discuss changes to the way the sport is run.

Read report

Governance, Discrimination - UK: 84% Of British Sportswomen Feel They Are Not Paid Enough Compared To Men

The survey, which was sent to 1,068 women across 39 sports and received 537 responses, also found 85% of British sportswomen believe the media does not do enough to promote women’s sport, despite 93.4% agreeing media coverage of women’s sport has improved over the past five years.

Read report

Governance, Diversity - Rugby Union: 'It's not just older ones who have a problem with women'

The WRU’s head of operations, Julie Paterson, and the most influential woman in rugby says the game has changed but there is still work to do.

Read report

Governance, Commercial - Football/Soccer: The curious case of Wigan Athletic and the English Football League’s owners & directors test

Since going into administration, there is the issue of how Wigan went from being purchased to filing for administration in less than a month. It clearly raises questions surrounding the ‘Owners’ and Directors’ Test’ which can be found at Appendix 3 of the English Football League Regulations.

Read report

Governance, Contracts - Football/Soccer: Boli Bolingoli has committed a criminal offence and breached his contract - Celtic can sack him

CELTIC will be legally entitled to sack Boli Bolingoli for breaking Covid-19 protocols if they want to make an example of the player and send out a strong message that future breaches will have severe repercussions.

Read report

Commercial - Fanatics closes $350M funding round, catapulting valuation to $6.2B

The funding round will be used to "accelerate the acquisition of rights to build our vertical e-commerce business," Fanatics chairman and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin said. The $350 million Series E round led by Fidelity Management & Research Co. and Thrive Capital is poised to be Fanatics’ last — the Jacksonville, Florida-based company is working toward filing for an initial public offering

Read report

Commercial, IP - American Football: NFL’s Washington Football Team launch rebrand engagement platform

The franchise announced last month that it would be dropping its controversial Redskins moniker and would be known as the Washington Football Team until a new name had been settled upon. Now it has launched the ‘Washington Journey’ digital platform, designed to offer a view into that process. The site will offer interviews and exclusive content optimised for sharing on social media.

Read report

Commercial, Sponsorship - Cricket: Rajasthan Royals announce groundbreaking new partnership with women's sanitary towel brand

England's World Cup winners Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Tom Curran will show their support for women's health in next month's IPL after their Rajasthan Royals team announced a groundbreaking partnership with a women's sanitary towel brand, in an effort to help break taboos around menstruation.

Read report

Commercial, Sponsorship - Football/Soccer: £15m China shirt crisis hits Southampton with main sponsor LD Sports set to pull the plug

Southampton have been left stunned as Chinese shirt sponsor LD Sports are set to quit the club before the new season - a shock decision that could cost the club £15million. Club officials have discovered that the sponsor is likely to walk away from their agreement two years early.

Read report

Commercial, Sponsorship - Cricket: IPL Seeks New Title Sponsor As Vivo is Given Out, Amid Anti-China Sentiment

China's Vivo pulls out of their $330m Indian cricket sponsorship due to China / India border tensions.

Read report

Commercial, Sponsorship - ‘Covid-19 will accelerate the decrease in sports rights values’

Simon Green, the head of UK pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport, believes the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic for media companies will accelerate the decline in the value of sports rights.

Read report

Broadcasting - Basketball: WNBA And Twitter Renew Live Stream Partnership

The renewed deal marks the fourth consecutive season with matches broadcast on Twitter, with the WNBA 2020 season set to begin at the Feld Entertainment Center in Florida on August 12.

Read report

Sports Tech, Broadcasting - Sailing: SailGP brings on board Acronis for broadcast enhancements

Global sailing league SailGP has announced a three-year partnership with Acronis that will see the data and cyber protection firm help enhance the series’ broadcast product through the deployment of voice recognition technology.

Read report

Major Events - Uyghurs call for 2022 Beijing Winter Games to be relocated due to rights abuses

The largest group of exiled ethnic Uyghurs has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider holding the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, citing what it says is evidence of crimes against humanity committed in China's Xinjiang region.

Read report

Venues - ‘Stadia need rethink for fans to return,’ says leading crowd scientist

Clubs and sports event organisers will need to undergo a “painful but necessary” rethink before allowing fans back into stadia, according to an expert in crowd science.

Read report

Need legal support, but not the ongoing headcount and expense? Check out our range of Outsourced In-house Counsel retainer plans.

Contact us to discuss these issues further and how they may apply to your sport, or email Mat Jessep at: mat @

Many thanks, as always, to Prof. Jack Anderson for continually bringing important sports law topics, from near and far, and brilliant insights and analysis to our attention.






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