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Athlete's Rights in Arbitration: Striking a balance between Fairness and Expenditure Resolution

Athlete's Rights in Arbitration: Striking a balance between Fairness and Expenditure Resolution

The sports law mainly and essentially evolves around the Athlete’s rights and is one of the pivotal areas under the law. For a long time, the jurisdictions and autonomy inspected in very few ways relating to sports affairs although there are various intricacies when the questions are posed mainly relating to the fundamental rights of athletes. The governing authorities of the particular sports make the rules and regulations, but when there is any human rights violation or the rights of athletes are infringed then the CAS (The Court of Arbitration for Sports is one of the main Institutions to resolve the dispute.[1] CAS is the highest body for dispute settlement related to sports. To regulate the CAS, (IOC) i.e., the International Olympic Committee provides various laws related to human rights and discrimination while playing sports, as described under Principle 4 of IOC, one of the main agendas of the IOC and CAS is to protect the rights of Athletes concerning violation human rights, harassments, discriminations, abuses, violations of natural and fundamental right and to promote the healthy sports. CAS mainly has jurisdiction in the areas related to human rights and contractual liabilities and rights of the athletes.[2]

Disciplinary Actions and Natural Justice:

When there is a breach of a sport’s member protection Policy such as doping, transfer of players, safety in the stadium, clubs' liabilities for members' conduct and match-fixing, etc., mainly come under the ambit of disciplinary actions and those circumstances, CAS amicably resolves the disputes related to the sports with the help of worldwide accepted dispute resolving mechanism i.e., Arbitrations.[3] The main theme of natural justice as also adopted by CAS via the Code of Sports-Related Arbitration is to establish the justice that not only be done but also be seen as done, therefore concerning sports-related disputes, it is applicable in various forms and various stages of the proceedings. This can be seen from the initial stage even when the proceeding is not technically started that is, when there is an appointment of the Arbitrator. The neutral and unbiased arbitrator is selected for the proceedings and fair and equitable chances are given to both the parties. The award provided those are not consistent with the principles of natural justice can be challenged and even be set aside, as Per Section 34 of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act. Even the European Convention on Human Rights says that natural justice and fair trial should be done in all aspects of the justice system. Section 48 of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 states that foreign awards will only be admitted when provided by following the principles of natural justice, apart from that National Code of Good Governance also enunciates the universal principle of ethics, fairness, and good governance under the sports law to be followed.[4]

Swift Resolution compromising Fairness:

The arbitration for athlete disciplinary is in severe need of the swift resolution system as there is a large amount of adverse effect building upon the athlete’s career therefore to reduce that it is necessary to make a balance between fairness and speedy trial or efficiency.[5] The disciplinary actions though need a speedy trial as the life of the sport and the athletes is short in terms of their career in sports but keeping that in mind the basic or the fundamental rule of natural justice and Human rights are not to be neglected. Therefore, there could be a variety of tools and techniques used to provide a balanced judgment that is by implementing techniques like pre-hearing of conferences which will aid in the arbitral proceeding without compromising trail and fair award. Clear communication, thorough examination of facts, and transparency in the proceedings are necessary for a just and fair award and also for maintaining the balance of efficiency and fairness.[6] Another step that could be added to the result is the establishment of a feedback mechanism for regular improvement in the work maintaining the understanding and trust of the athlete will be helpful and will also maintain the urgency of disciplinary matters and fair and meticulous examinations of the facts.[7]


[1] Lex Sportiva and the Court of Arbitration for Sport - Researchgate, Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

[2] “Forum on Sport and Human Rights (Third Edition) - Sport - Www.Coe.Int.” Sport, Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

[3] “Disciplinary Disputes.” National Sports Tribunal, National Sports Tribunal, 8 Nov. 2023,

[4] Amlegals. “Principles of Natural Justice in Arbitral Proceedings.” Law Firm in Ahmedabad, 28 July 2022,

[5], Sport Resolutions -. “How to Conduct Effective Sports Dispute Resolution & Advocacy Online.” Sport Resolutions, Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

[6] Shinohara, Tsubasa. “Human Rights in Sports Arbitration: What Should the Court of Arbitration for Sport Do for Protecting Human Rights in Sports? - Liverpool Law Review.” SpringerLink, Springer Netherlands, 21 Oct. 2023,,17%20of%20the%20Ad%20hoc.

[7] Sport and Human Rights - Court of Arbitration for Sport, Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

  • The article describes about CAS, governed by IOC principles, holds jurisdiction in sports disputes, safeguarding athletes' fundamental rights and addressing human rights violations.
  • Arbitration proceedings adhering to natural justice principles, ensuring fair and unbiased procedure in CAS Disciplinary Actions.
  • Article describes on aiming a balance between Swift Resolution and Fairness.

BY : Vaishnavi Rastogi

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