Representing athletes in discrimination cases

Sports Lawyer represented Australian Women’s Amateur Boxing Champion (69-75Kg Class), Elisha Buckley in a discrimination case. Ms Buckley, from Perth, Western Australia, who was afflicted with Bradicardia and wears a surgically fitted cardiac pacemaker, was prohibited on medical grounds from participating further in Olympic style amateur boxing by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) and Boxing Australia Inc (BAI) earlier this year.

We appealed against her boxing ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and commenced proceedings against AIBA and BAI on 11 May 2010. A CAS hearing was scheduled for 11 and 12 June 2010. However, following preliminary submissions made to the CAS on Buckley’s behalf by her Melbourne barrister, Paul Hayes and the solicitors of Sports Lawyer, AIBA and BAI accepted that Buckley’s prohibition from boxing was unlawful and agreed to lift the ban.

Buckley is now able to continue her journey to try and represent Australia at the 2010 Olympic Games in London.


Representing athletes in discrimination cases

Sports Lawyer is able to offer its clients representation from experienced advocates. We have appeared before domestic tribunals on behalf of Clubs and athletes who face charges. Sports Lawyer is engaged by Richmond Football Club to instruct on their tribunal matters. We have also sat on various domestic tribunals.

We have represented clubs, athletes, official and spectators charged with a range of matters such as playing an ineligible player, breaching transfer rules, misconduct, and bringing the sport into disrepute.

We also advise clients on whether or not to appeal a decision of a domestic tribunal or sporting body. There may be grounds to do so if the sporting body did not have the necessary jurisdiction to make such a decision, if the penalty was excessive or if procedural fairness and natural justice was not afforded.

For example Sports Lawyer acted on behalf of a parent/spectator who was banned by a basketball organisation for life. We argued that the body did not have the power to ban a spectator who was not bound by their rules. The basketball organisation argued that the basketball stadium had a right to refuse entry of an individual. We were able to negotiate the ban to a period of six months.


Representing athletes in police matters

Sports Lawyer is able to offer its clients the unique skills and experience of a team with a background in litigation and criminal law matters.  We have acted for a number of high profile AFL players who fell on the wrong side of the law.  In many cases, it is a matter of damage control, or managing the media involvement in the case, even avoiding the media becoming aware of a case.

One client was originally charged with offences related to public drunkenness.  We successfully negotiated the withdrawal of charges by the police.  In another case, two charges of driving whilst a license was suspended, one of which also involved a short police chase, led to a six month loss of license and a fine.  In two assault cases, our lawyers were able to convince a Magistrate to impose only good behaviour bonds on the players.  No convictions were recorded.


Reviewing the rules of a sporting association


Sports Lawyer was asked to review the rules of a Melbourne Metropolitan Football League.  Paul Horvath initially reviewed the Tribunal Rules to ensure that they were cleared and that there was no uncertainty about meaning.  It was found that cases had arisen over a number of years, and with defences used in the Tribunal; some rules needed clarification.  Also, the Tribunal utilised many unwritten rules that were understood by everyone, but not recorded anywhere.

It was only a matter of time before a party challenged the rules.  As they were written they did not ban specific conduct, but in practice all Tribunal participants followed the unwritten rules.  The change was needed.

About twelve months later, the same client asked Sports Lawyer to overhaul their entire constitution, putting clauses in a logical order and removing outdated ones.  It is not uncommon that 20-30 years can pass without constitutions or rules being updated.  This may leave a League exposed to some legal risk or liability as the rules may be inaccurate and outdate, or they may not suit the current board’s needs.  The constitution may have been created in a different era when the financial resources available to the League were much more limited.  Now the rules and constitution are much easier to read and more relevant to the League today.



Advice on anti-doping issues

A professional Victorian event management body was considering bringing a major international sporting event to Victoria.  Sports Lawyer provided detailed specialist written advice to the client concerning the anti-doping legislation that would apply to the international athletes.  As Paul Horvath is a published author in this area, he was able to provide the advice required as to what testing regimes the athletes may be subject to whilst in this country, whether or not the athletes were obliged to comply with the testing, and if they did not, what consequences flowed from that.

The Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority Act (Cth) 2006 is a very broad reaching piece of legislation. All athletes, whether Australians or visiting athletes participating in international level competition, or at an international standard, may be subject to compulsory testing. The results may not be enforcable if the sport does not prohibit the substance, but a positive test finding may lead to unwanted media attention and adverse comment back in the athlete’s home country. Ultimately, for a range of reasons, it was decided not to host the event in Victoria.


If you feel that you need legal advice regarding any of the above matters, or have a general enquiry please contact us today on (03) 9642 0435 or email