After opening remarks from Kate Palmer, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Sports Commission, we were treated to a presentation on key sport law issues by Professor Jack Anderson, Director of Sports Law, University of Melbourne at the AIS on Wednesday 23 May 2018.

  • Jack spoke strongly on the IAAF regulations and governance of women’s sport, reflecting on polarising issues such as measuring natural testosterone levels in women and suggesting that a comparison needed to be made to the natural advantages that some athletes have had –for eg Michael Phelps.
  • The future of contact sports – concussion in contact sports like AFL and the rugby codes, NFL, boxing and other martial arts.  The only way to take the risk of long-term injury from concussions out of contact sports is to take the contact out of contact sport.  Then they won’t be contact sports any more.   So what do sports administrators do?  Can the politicians step in: what could they do without banning sports?  They’ve already indicated a reluctance to do that.  And these problems are not going away.
  • A hot topic of the night was cheating. Jack discussed the many ways that racehorses are ‘enhanced’ before racing. He also provided the example of match-fixing in tennis, where a survey of 3,200 professionals revealed that 15% had first-hand knowledge of a fixed event!
  • E-sports –  they are huge in Asia and America and Europe, they appeal hugely to the 18-24 demographic, most competitors are young men (some women), and it’s already a billion-dollar industry worldwide and it is effectively unregulated.  This raises all sorts of problems about exploitation, integrity and cheating.  And these problems are not going away.

Our MC, Genevieve Jacobs, legendary Canberra journalist and presenter, skilfully guided an expert panel discussion between Catherine Ordway, Senior Consultant, Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers, Allistar Twigg, Lawyer, Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers and Chad Burnell, Assistant Director, Office of Legal & Procurement, Australian Sports Commission. The panel discussion ranged far and wide, about current and pressing sporting issues, at an elite level and particularly at grass-roots level. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. Which sports are “doing it well” – In terms of Olympic Sports, the UCI (cycling) is leading the world on independent anti-doping processes, and in terms of governance, the IAAF (athletics) is showing promising signs of best practice.
  2. A question about Hannah Mouncey and testosterone levels – it is only one of many indicators – and the ASC guidelines should be out in August after a period of consultation. The main point is that a blanket cannot be thrown over the whole athlete population with their diverse genetic profiles.
  3. How sports manage media scandals – this was not really a law question except to say in criminal matters leave it to the police and code of conduct type matters need to be carefully balanced between rushing in with a knee-jerk reaction and waiting too long and being criticised for inaction! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!

How can Snedden Hall & Gallop help you?

The Sports Law team provide efficient and effective legal and ancillary services across the sporting and fitness industries. We understand the legal needs of athletes, sporting teams, clubs and other participants within the industry. Please contact Allistar by phone on (02) 6285 8000 or by email to discuss. You can find out more about the sports law services we provide.

With thanks: The Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association (ANZSLA) and Australian Sports Commission.