The Supervisory Role of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Regulating the International Sport System

By Marcus Mazzucco and Hilary Findlay.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The international sport system exists and operates as a self-regulating private legal order that is governed by international non-governmental organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and international sport federations (IFs). Nation states have deferred to this regulatory autonomy by either refraining from enacting legislation governing national sport bodies, or adopting legislation that recognizes the near exclusive authority of the IOC and IFs over national sport organizations and national Olympic committees. Similarly, with respect to dispute resolution, the emergence of private sports arbitration tribunals, both at the national and international level, has substantially reduced the ability of national courts to intervene into sporting disputes. The effect of these developments has been to shield the autonomy of the international sport system from regulation by national legal systems. From a national law perspective, this self-regulation has significant implications when the rules and regulations of international sport bodies contravene fundamental principles of equity and fairness, typically enshrined in and protected by domestic human rights law. This concern was realized in the recent case of Sagen v. Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, wherein several female ski jumpers brought a constitutional challenge against the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee for implementing the IOC’s decision not to include women’s ski jumping in the 2010 Olympic Programme. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether current systems of regulation within the sport system, specifically, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the IOC Ethics Commission, are able to provide the necessary oversight over international sport bodies that national legal systems are often unable to provide. It is argued that CAS, as the more suitable regulator, has both the authority and an obligation to exercise a greater supervisory role over the international sport system.

Keywords: Sports Law, International Sport, Court of Arbitration for Sport, IOC Ethics Commission, Women’s Ski Jumping, 2010 Olympic Games, Lex Sportiva, Sport Governance

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.131-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 669.198KB).

Marcus Mazzucco

Third Year Student, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Marcus Mazzucco recently obtained his Juris Doctor from the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria, Canada. He previously completed his Bachelor of Physical and Health Education at the University of Toronto, Canada. His research interests and publications concern legal and policy aspects involving the protection of children in sport, Canadian and international sport arbitration, and international sport governance. Marcus will be articling with the Legal Services Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Health Promotion.

Dr. Hilary Findlay

Associate Professor, Department of Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Hilary Findlay, PhD, LL.B., Associate Professor, Department of Sport Management, Brock University and a Director with the Centre for Sport and Law. Her research focuses on national and international sport dispute resolution.