LAWFUEL – Sports Law Newswire – Governing sports bodies set up years a…

LAWFUEL – Sports Law Newswire – Governing sports bodies set up years ago are struggling to deal with the modern demands of sport in an age of sponsorship, professional sport and a variety of legal issues erupting on the golf course, the tennis court, the football field.

The Herald reports this week that the Monte Carlo Masters tennis event, due to start on Sunday, dragged the ATP into a US federal court in Delaware. Last month, the Hamburg Masters sued the ATP in the same court. Both events were unhappy that their tournaments, one tier below grand slam status, were being downgraded. Surely it’s for the ATP to decide what events measure up to their criteria?

But this is the sport which has for years turned a blind eye to tanking – players deliberately losing so they can move on to another event where they think they have a better chance.

Yesterday, veteran Scottish wicketkeeper Sandy Strang threatened legal action against Cricket Scotland over a one-match ban imposed for use of the “F” word. Leaving aside that the sport seems to have over-reacted, and may indeed be incompetent (they would not be the first such governing body), removing a sport’s authority to legislate is a recipe for anarchy.

That principal was also challenged yesterday, it emerged, in El Paso, Texas, where a footwear company is suing the International Association of Athletics Federations and USA Track and Field. Spira Footwear claim that technological innovations have caused their running shoes to be banned. They allege that sport rules banning assisted devices violate US laws on restraint of trade and monopolistic practices. They say athletics’ rules prevent their patented WaveSpring technology from gaining acceptance. The company say seven runners will be wearing its shoes at the Boston Marathon next Monday.

The IAAF is already embroiled in controversy over the use of a carbon fibre prosthetic used by South African Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius, the so-called “fastest man on no legs”. They expect to rule out the double amputee’s spring legs which single-amputee rivals believe give him an unfair advantage.

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