Editorial to the June 2013 edition

We are proud to present and welcome readers to the June 2013 edition (citation: GSLTR 2013/2) of our ground-breaking journal and on-line database (www.gsltr.com): Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports (GSLTR).

Sport is such big business nowadays that it not only features on the back pages of newspapers, but also on the front pages, making news in its own right and generating widespread interest and comment. It is also widely covered digitally on the internet, with many websites dedicated to sport and sports law, including our own dedicated website at www.gsltr.com. Because of its huge financial importance, there is so much to play for not only on the field of play, but equally – and perhaps more significantly – off the field of play as well. This has led to a culture in elite sports of winning at all costs, not least through the use of performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage, which is entirely contrary to the essential nature and integrity of sport, which, in its unadulterated form, is all about fair competition and “level playing fields” in all aspects.

Doping by individual athletes is, sadly, quite common, despite the continuing efforts of the World Anti-Doping Agency to eradicate this form of cheating. But less common, from time to time, doping also rears its ugly head in relation to the performance of animals participating in sport, such as horse racing. One such recent case is the doping scandal involving the world-renowned Godolphin Racing Stables in New Market in the United Kingdom, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Constitutional Monarch of Dubai (UAE).

The tests at Godolphin were carried out as part of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) “testing in training” sampling programme. As part of this programme, BHA officials visited the Stables on 9 April 2013 and carried out tests on forty-five horses. Blood samples were taken from the horses concerned and subsequently analysed by the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory in Newmarket – an independent drug surveillance laboratory.

On 22 April 2013, the BHA announced that trainer Mahood Al Zarooni of the Godolphin Stables would be facing a disciplinary hearing enquiry after it emerged that eleven horses tested positive for prohibited substances. Four of the horses, including the 2012 Ascot Gold Cup runner-up, Opinion Poll, tested positive for stanozolol; whilst seven horses tested positive for ethylestranol. Although stanozolol may be used in the bona fide medical treatment of horses, the drug appears in the present case to have been used for non-medical purposes, namely as a performance enhancing drug that promotes muscular development.

In response to the findings, Al Zarooni announced that he deeply regretted what had happened and admitted having made “a catastrophic error”. Whilst admitting liability, the trainer argued that, as the horses were not involved in racing at the time, he believed that no doping infraction had occurred.

The BHA operates a zero tolerance policy in relation to the use of performance enhancing drugs and both stanozolol and ethylestranol are deemed to be performance enhancing substances and are prohibited in both training and in competition. On 25 April 2013, the BHA banned Al Zarooni from racing for eight years and the horses concerned were banned from competing for six months, by which time the effects of the banned substances would have left their systems and the horses “clean” for competition. Al Zarooni has since announced that he is appealing against his ban.

Another recent sporting black spot that has received widespread media coverage and generated a range of conflicting comments and views involved the Liverpool and Uruguyan national striker, Luis Suarez, who was banned by the English Football Association Independent Regulatory Commission on 24 April 2013 for ten matches for biting an opponent’s arm.

The 26 year old Uruguayan has “form” for this kind of offence, having received a seven match ban in 2010 for biting an opponent whilst playing for the Dutch club Ajax. Some commentators have remarked that the current ban was excessive, whilst others have said that the individual rather than the offence was being punished. I fail to see the difference between the two, as one cannot deal with an offence against the “laws of football” in isolation in order to make the punishment fit the “crime”! Suarez has announced that, mainly for PR reasons, he will not appeal against the latest ten match ban.

In any case, it appears that there is a need for the English Football Association to lay down a minimum punishment of so-many match bans for this kind of unsporting behaviour, which clearly brings the “beautiful game” into disrepute and should, therefore, by all means, be rooted out!

In this issue, we feature a welcome contribution from the United States by the leading American sports lawyer and academic, Prof. John Wolohan of Syracuse University, New York, on a topical issue spawned by the current economic recession. A number of States are considering legalising gambling as a means of offsetting some of their budget shortfalls. Wolohan points out, for example, that the State of Minnesota has estimated that, by adding electronic bingo games, it could generate an addition $ 35 million a year in taxes to help finance a new stadium project. Although most of the States are looking at casino-style games and state-run lotteries, a small number of them are considering sports gambling to raise additional tax revenues. One such State is New Jersey, which projects that sport betting would raise an additional $ 30.6 million in annual taxes.

However, these attempts are facing opposition from the professional sport leagues who are using the Federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act to block New Jersey’s efforts and Wolohan’s article reviews the opposing sides’ legal battle!

We also include legal articles on kicking racism out of football in the light of the John Terry affair, who was acquitted by a Criminal Court but condemned by the English FA Disciplinary Body; fighting illegal gambling and match-fixing in cricket, which is also affecting the lucrative IPL (Indian Premier League); the importance of trademarks in sports marketing; ADR and sport in Greece; and so-called “morality clauses”, also known as “bad boy clauses”, in sponsorship agreements, particularly in the light of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

On the tax side, we include articles on the topical issue of David Beckham, who announced his retirement from football in the same week that Alex Ferguson announced his, donating his salary to a charity; a US Tax Court case regarding Sergio Garcia; and the new Netherlands income tax liability for salaries higher than € 150,000.

So, consistent with our aims of maintaining the high standard and variety of the articles that we publish, there is much in the June issue of GSLTR to inform and interest sports legal and tax advisers alike and, of course, their clients! Please spread the word about GSLTR amongst your colleagues and contacts and help us to increase our global footprint and go from strength to strength.

Finally, as always, we would welcome your comments and suggestions on our journal and its coverage, which will help us to realise our mission of producing and providing an invaluable and must-have resource for all those involved in the ever-evolving and often intertwined fields of sports law and taxation. We would also welcome and value your contributions in the form of articles and topical case notes and commentaries, especially for posting on the GSLTR dedicated website at www.gsltr.com.

So, now read on and enjoy the June 2013 edition of GSLTR!

 

Dr. Rijkele Betten (Managing Editor)

Prof. Dr. Ian S. Blackshaw (Consulting Editor)

 

June 2013