16 October 2020

Majority of UK anti-doping proceedings involve free legal advice

Over seventy percent of the 26 National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) proceedings that were resolved in the UK doing 2019/20 involved the provision of free legal advice to athletes, Sport Resolutions’ Annual Report has revealed. Sport Resolutions operates the UK’s independent National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP), a panel of 29 experts, which handles doping cases in the UK for UK Anti-Doping (UKAD). It also operates a ‘pro-bono’ service designed to provide athletes of limited financial means with sources of legal advice. 

Defending a doping case can be expensive. For illustrative purposes only, UKAD’s 2018/19 Annual Report reveals that it spent £381,000 on legal costs during the year. Sport Resolutions’ Annual Report shows that 18 cases were referred to the NADP during that year.

A total of 33 cases were referred to the NADP during 2019/20, 26 of which were resolved during the year. The total number of cases handled by Sports Resolutions hit an all time high of 184 during 2019/20, the Annual Report (PDF below) reveals. A total of 331 issues were referred to Sports Resolutions during the year, 184 of which developed into cases, investigations or reviews.

Federations to which Sport Resolutions provides services…

Sport Resolutions is a sports dispute resolution body created by UK sport stakeholders to provide an expert, cost-effective alternative to internal disciplinary panels. It currently provides disciplinary panel services for nine international federations (see right). Perhaps as a result of this experience, the number of issues referred to it from outside the UK hit a record 63 during the year – more than double last year’s figure of 35. One third of these international issues also involved pro-bono advice.

During the year, Sport Resolutions formed a partnership with the British Paralympic Association (BPA) to provide training to panel members on ‘intentional misrepresentation’ matters regarding Paralympic classification, ‘should they arise in the future’. In 2018, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) investigated a British Paralympic medalist due to concerns that they may have duped the system.

Sport Resolutions also operates the National Safeguarding Panel, which is designed to support sports governing bodies in managing safeguarding concerns. In 2017, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson called for the introduction of a sporting ombudsman as part of her Duty of Care in Sport Report. ‘There have been a number of high-profile sport safeguarding and welfare cases in recent years, and the benefits of having a truly independent and expert safe- guarding service available to deal with such matters cannot be underestimated’, writes Richard Harry, CEO of Sports Resolutions, in the Report. ‘Perhaps now is the time to revisit that concept with Sport Resolutions being the obvious vehicle to provide that service given our proven expertise’. 

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