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How DNA Was Used To Determine Sample Identity In An Anti-Doping First For India – The Case Of Vijay Singh

Fri, 2021-09-03 08:06

Vijay Singh (Mr. Singh) is an Indian athlete who enjoyed circuit racing and competing at the JK Tyre Championships once every year at the Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi. He was an amateur biker and was not contracted with any professional outfit. Mr. Singh also runs a successful motorcycle workshop business and has built India’s first flat track for motor cross and rally racing by the name of ‘John Singh Speedway’.

During the 2018 JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship, Mr. Singh was informed that he had to report for a doping control test, as he had a podium finish. This is the first time Mr. Singh was subjected to an anti-doping test. When Mr. Singh went to the doping control station, he found multiple people walking in & out and numerous other racing athletes with their family present at the station. The Doping Control Officer (DCO) was handling multiple samples simultaneously and many open samples were placed on the table at the Doping Control Station unattended.

Mr. Singh received a ‘notice of charge’ from India’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) on 25.01.2019 intimating that the test for ‘Sample A’ of his urine reported an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for “Prohibited Substances”. i.e. ‘3-OH-stanozolol’ and ‘16-B-OH Stanozolol’ (Stanozolol metabolites), which are classified as anabolic steroids. Mr. Singh requested for testing of ‘Sample B’. The same was tested at India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) and the Athlete received a second notice of charge dated 27.03.2019 confirming the AAF.

In what is probably the first case of its kind in India, Mr. Singh was eventually cleared of the AAF due to a DNA test proving that the contaminated sample did not belong to Mr. Singh. 

By way of disclosure, please note that the author acted for Mr Singh in the case.  

AuthorVidushpat Singhania Anika Dhingra

Benjamin Mendy’s criminal charges – employment, sporting & financial repercussions

Tue, 2021-08-31 09:20

Benjamin Mendy has been remanded in custody, following charges of four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.[1]

His employer club, Manchester City, has suspended Mendy pending an internal investigation.[2]

AuthorJohn Mehrzad QC

The perilous state of EFL club finances: A review of the Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday cases

Fri, 2021-08-20 09:15

This article examines several cases involving the English Football League (EFL) and two of its clubs: Sheffield Wednesday FC and Derby County FC. The Sheffield Wednesday matters relate to the accounting practices applied to the purchase of their stadium and the non-payment of player wages. The Derby County matters relate to, among other things, the amortisation policy applied to their transfer fees and the non-payment of player wages.

The decisions are reviewed in light of the EFL’s financial fair play rules, before reflecting on public criticisms about the process, including the wide-ranging impact of financial allegations, investigations and sanctions on clubs; the EFL’s position within the process; and the time taken to complete the hearings.  Specifically, this article looks at:

  • Derby and Sheffield Wednesday’s financial woes
  • The EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules
  • Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium purchase
  • Derby’s transfer fee amortisation policy
  • Is it time for an independent football regulator? 
AuthorWill Bordell

When can directors and agents be personally liable - A cautionary tale from Tattersalls Ltd v McMahon

Fri, 2021-08-20 04:21

Bloodstock auction (auctions for horses that have been bred for racing[1]) sales are a common means of selling thoroughbred horses - the thunder of racing hooves is often foreshadowed by the crack of the gavel. It was such an auction that gave rise to proceedings in Tattersalls Limited v McMahon[2] in which the High Court examined agency law, the Companies Act 2006[3] (CA 2006), the application of the auction house’s conditions of sale, and credit agreements in an auction context.

Key points
  • A company director who placed winning bids at a bloodstock auction on behalf of his company was held jointly and severally liable for the non-payment of the relevant lots.
  • Section 40 (powers of the director to bind the company) and Section 43 (company contracts) of CA 2006 do not support an argument that company directors acting on a company’s behalf are not agents, if they fulfil an agent’s role.
  • There is a distinction between director’s actions that bind a company and agent’s actions on behalf of a company. However, company directors can act as agents whilst binding their companies and the common law of agency will apply to their actions where relevant. This should be a consideration when directors of, inter alia, football and cricket clubs enter into negotiations for the purchase of assets.
  • Parties bound by conditions of sale remain bound by their financial obligations under such conditions regardless of whether the relevant purchase is also subject to a credit agreement.
AuthorAdam Ibrahim Chengiz Ali Benjamin Fellows

Wrestling For Control: Former WWE Pro’s Copyright Challenge To Activision’s Call of Duty Character

Fri, 2021-08-13 07:00

Copyright disputes relating to video games are becoming commonplace in American courts, and a recent decision from a federal court in Texas has permitted one such dispute to proceed to trial. 

On February 12, 2019, former professional wrestler Booker T. Huffman sued Major League Gaming and video game publisher Activision, claiming copyright infringement[1]. The lawsuit involves Mr. Huffman’s wrestling alter ego, G.I. Bro, a retired special operations’ solider.  In 2015, Mr. Huffman created four cartoon drawings of his G.I. Bro character and two comic books featuring G.I. Bro.  Mr. Huffman is the owner of each of the foregoing works, and further registered them with the United States Copyright Office[2].  Mr. Huffman claimed Activision copied G.I. Bro’s likeness when developing the character David “Prophet” Wilkes in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

While Defendants made several efforts to have the case dismissed, the case proceeded to trial, but the jury ultimately found for Defendants.

This article examines the case, looking at the motion for summary judgement and the arguments made by the Defendants and the trial that proceeded

AuthorAndrew King

ESIC’s novel sanctioning methods in the CS:GO “coach spectator bug” case

Fri, 2021-08-13 06:02

In the last year the professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) scene has been rocked by significant allegations of widespread cheating. In September 2020 the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) commenced an investigation into the “coach bug”, a form of cheat that allowed a team to gain a tactical advantage through their coach clandestinely spectating the opponent team. The author wrote for LawInSport on this issue following ESIC issuing an initial slew of sanctions against three players. That article, which provides the background for this update, can be found here[1].

Since then 37 coaches have been sanctioned, ESIC has concluded this form of cheating was “widespread” and decided it will not undertake further historic investigations, and the game’s publisher, Valve, has banned coaches from being present in competitor rooms (or on the server) during live play.

This is a striking case. That the use of this bug was so widespread is indicative of the difficulty ESIC and others face in trying to regulate esports competitions. This article considers:

  • Background facts
  • The outcome of ESIC’s investigations and its novel sanctioning methods
  • Valve’s response to the investigation
  • Next steps and comment
AuthorDaniel Kozelko

A Timely Reminder Of The Duty Of Care Owed To Visitors To Sports Grounds: Lewis v Wandsworth Council

Fri, 2021-08-06 07:53

As recreational sport returns to local parks and commons, a recent High Court ruling in Lewis v Wandsworth London Borough Council[1] has served as a useful reminder to occupiers of their duty of care owed to visitors. In this case, a passer-by was hit and injured by a cricket ball while she was walking in the park. She claimed damages for her injury, arguing that the council should have put up signage in the park warning about the dangers of the cricket match.

The case considers, amongst other things, the tests of reasonableness and remoteness under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 (OLA 1957), which regulates the duties that an occupier of premises owes to its visitors in respect of dangers.  It is also notable for revisiting points to be distilled from the seminal House of Lords decision in Bolton v Stone.[2]   This article examines the first instance and the Hight Court Appeal decision and draws outs the key principles for sports organisations to bear in mind when organising matches.

AuthorJack Wood

Sports Technology And Media Rights - The Year In Review 2020/2021

Fri, 2021-08-06 02:00

2020/2021 has been a year like no other for everyone, and the commercial sports world is no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic shook the world in early 2020, largely bringing sport to a complete standstill until May (and in many cases, much later). For an industry which is based on the exploitation of sporting content, having no sport being played at all was a seismic and unprecedented problem for the industry. Thankfully, as soon as governments around the world permitted the return of professional sport, much sport returned to our lives, albeit in COVID-19 secure environments and (largely) without the presence of spectators.

Now, over a year into the pandemic, it is a good time to consider how the commercial sports world has spent the last year dealing with a period of global turmoil for the industry. In doing so, we will consider the following topics:

  • the impact of COVID-19 on broadcasting deals;
  • technological innovation in sport exploitation;
  • esports and streaming; and
  • an assessment of the investment and sponsorship landscape over the last 12 months.

It will become apparent that the pandemic has also brought significant opportunity for stakeholders in the industry to innovate, evolve and improve their commercial offering on turbocharged timelines. This article finishes with a forward-looking assessment on what trends and developments from the last year are expected to continue in the forthcoming 12 months.

AuthorConor Hume Ansgar Faßbender Dr. Joseph Fesenmair

The Premier League TV Rights Deal Rollover – A Break From The Norm

Thu, 2021-07-29 08:34

As the world’s sporting media focussed on the launch of the European Super League in April 2021, the Premier League’s attention was elsewhere, namely the 2022 – 2025 domestic TV rights auction. The result was a break from the open tender process generally followed by the Premier League to ward off competition law concerns – rather than go out to the market, the Premier League (with the UK government’s approval) instead opted to ‘rollover’ its existing broadcast agreements with Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport for 2022 – 2025.

This article examines:

  • The state of play before the rollover
  • The changes to the broadcasting packages in this rollover
  • Details surrounding the government approval for the rollover
AuthorJoshua Kay

Negotiating athlete endorsement agreements in India

Wed, 2021-07-14 23:20

This article was first published on 18 January 2017 and has been updated to reflect latest legal developments

While Indian companies have often engaged Indian cricketers as brand ambassadors, there has recently been a growing trend to engage Indian athletes who have made a mark in other sports. However, the athlete endorsement market in India continues to be dominated by Indian cricketers. Occasionally, Indian companies have also engaged foreign cricketers as brand endorsers, with notable examples being Chris Gayle[1] and Steve Waugh[2]. However, examples of Indian companies engaging foreign athletes from sports other than cricket are few and far between and remain localised to current and retired legends of sports.

The first notable instance of an Indian company engaging an international athlete as a brand ambassador or endorser is that of Tiger Woods[3], who was engaged by the Hero Group, one of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturers. Another notable instance is that of Lionel Messi[4], who was engaged in 2016 by Tata Motors as the company’s global brand ambassador for a period of two years. In addition, sportspersons such as Michael Schumacher and Maria Sharapova[5] have lent their name to luxury residential projects, while legends such as the late Diego Maradona[6], the late Carlos Alberto Torres[7] and Zinedine Zidane[8] have made special appearances at jewellery showroom inaugurations, trophy tours and real estate project openings respectively.

In this context, this article aims to serve as a guide for any athlete (whether Indian or non-Indian) that receive opportunities to enter into endorsement deals in India. Further, the article briefly discusses some of the key legal and commercial issues that have cropped up in the realm of endorsements in India from an athlete’s perspective and highlights potential stumbling blocks and pitfalls that are to be avoided while exploring and entering the endorsement market.

Specifically, it discusses the need to:

AuthorRoshan Gopalakrishna R. Seshank Shekar Harsh Malpani

Fighting Fraud And Match Fixing In Esports - ESIC Refer Team Akuma Case To Valve

Fri, 2021-06-18 08:28

In May 2021 EPIC Esports Events, in association with the Russian eSports Federation (RESF), organised and ran the EPIC CIS League Spring 2021[1]. The event has given rise to a lot of cheating allegations against team Akuma[2], who had a surprisingly successful run in the competition. The case is instructive for a number of reasons:

  1. it demonstrates the importance of anti-cheating mechanisms in professional esports;
  2. it illustrates the current patchwork nature of regulation in the field; and
  3. it indicates how the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) continues to mature and succeed as a regulator.

This article examines:

  • Facts of the competition
  • Role of the ESIC in investigating the case
  • Whether the incident could have been prevented
AuthorDaniel Kozelko

Combatting the threat of drones to sports media and data rights

Tue, 2021-06-08 07:56

There has long pervaded the issue of unofficial filming and data collection in-stadia. From “courtsiding” at tennis matches to fans posting unauthorised video clips of goals from football matches on social media, this unofficial data collection can potentially significantly dilute the value of the media and data rights for rightsholders.

Fortunately, rightsholders have become increasingly proficient at dealing with individuals in-stadia who are operating in breach of the terms and conditions of entry, with dedicated staff employed to identify and eject them from the premises.

But what happens when the unauthorised collection of data or footage occurs outside of stadia?  To try and get to the bottom of this, we will look at the growing use of drones to capture video footage, the legal protections that may be available to sports media rights holders and take a glance at what may be coming on the horizon. This article examines:

  • The growing use of drones to capture video footage
  • The legal protections available to sports rights holders:
    • Health and safety actions
    • In-stadia vs outside of stadia (breach of ticketing terms)
    • Privacy laws
  • Copyright and / or trademark infringement
  • Comment
AuthorMatthew Curran-Whitburn

Can the Tokyo Games still be cancelled? Yes, but the legal and financial fallout would be staggering

Fri, 2021-06-04 00:50

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is adamant the Tokyo Olympics will begin as scheduled on July 23[1], followed by the Paralympic Games on August 24. Polls indicate the Japanese public is equally adamant that neither event should go ahead.

Public sentiment against the games has recently been accompanied by disquiet from local sponsors.[3]research institute has also argued that while cancelling the games would cost Japan ¥1.81 trillion (A$21.3 billion), the economic loss would still be smaller than the costs associated with a nationwide post-Olympics state of emergency.[4]

And Naoto Ueyama, the head of the Japan Doctors Union, has even suggested the Olympics might prompt the mutation of a new COVID variant.[5]

These medical and economic concerns are speculative, but they are nonetheless real.

A number of prefectures in Japan, including those in which Olympics events will take place, remain in a state of emergency, extended now to June 20.[6] And Japan’s vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the developed world, at less than 5%.[7]

Both of the above factors support the wider public’s concern that the risks of hosting the games in July appear too high to continue. 

AuthorJack Anderson