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Advice specifically for National Sports Organisations (NSOs).

Role of NSO in anti-doping cases

In previous years, NSOs used to bring anti-doping proceedings to the Tribunal against athletes who had tested positive to a prohibited substance or committed an anti-doping violation.

This is no longer the case and Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFS) is now the body who refers anti-doping violations to the Tribunal. DFS is essentially the prosecutor.

Until recently the NSO still used to bring provisional suspension applications to the Tribunal upon being informed that one of their athletes had tested positive to a banned substance. This changed in 2012 and DFS is now the body that brings provisional suspension applications to the Tribunal.

Under the Tribunal’s rules, the athlete’s NSO is automatically joined to anti-doping proceedings as an interested party.

  • This means that the NSO is copied into proceedings and takes part in any pre-hearing conferences and hearing.
  • However, generally the NSO does not take an active role in proceedings or present any submissions or evidence but takes a passive role.
  • The Tribunal may ask the NSO some questions if relevant.
  • The Tribunal may give the NSO an opportunity at the hearing to make submissions or comments.
  • It is not usually necessary for the NSO to have a legal representative in anti-doping proceedings. Hearings are often conducted by teleconference and are often quite short.

See Dispute types and process for information and the steps involved in the process.

Appeals against decisions of NSOs

An athlete or other member of an NSO may be able to bring an appeal against a decision of an NSO to the Sports Tribunal. NSOs in New Zealand usually provide for a right of appeal to the Sports Tribunal in their Rules against some types of decisions.

The most common types of appeal that an NSO will provide for are:

  • appeals against decisions not nominating or selecting athletes for a New Zealand team or squad and
  • appeals against disciplinary decisions.

However, an NSO can choose to provide for an appeal to the Tribunal against any type of decision it feels appropriate.

Before an athlete, or other member of an NSO, can appeal a decision of the NSO to the Tribunal there are four necessary conditions that must be satisfied:

  • Constitution, rules or regulations of the NSO must provide that there is a right of appeal to the Tribunal against those sorts of decisions.
  • All internal appeal rights and procedures within NSO have been completed first.
  • Appeals to the Tribunal must be made within time limit set out in NSO’s rules or, if not set out, within 28 days.
  • The grounds for the appeal must fall within any appeal grounds set out in the NSO’s rules or, if none are set out, within the default grounds of appeal set out in the Tribunal’s rules.

If the above conditions are not met, then the Tribunal can only hear the matter if the NSO agrees to this.

There are considerable advantages to the Sports Tribunal hearing and deciding such appeals. If the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear a matter, an athlete might seek to take the matter to the courts. If so, this is likely to be much a longer and complicated process and be considerably more expensive for all involved.

See Dispute types and process for further information and the steps involved in the process.

Sports related disputes referred by agreement

Where a dispute is not an anti-doping proceeding or an appeal proceeding, a dispute may still be able to be referred to the Sports Tribunal. However, before the Tribunal can hear such a dispute:

  • All parties to the dispute have to agree in writing to refer the dispute to the Tribunal.
  • The dispute has to be “sports-related” (if there is an issue over whether a dispute is “sports-related”, the Tribunal will decide).
  • The Tribunal must agree to hear the dispute.
  • Each party pays a filing fee of $250.

This can apply to NSOs in several ways.

  • If an athlete or other member wants to appeal a decision or resolve a dispute with their NSO, which does not fall within the rules of the NSO, the Tribunal can hear and decide the matter if the NSO agrees to this. The Tribunal is also able to provide mediation services to help the member and NSO to reach agreement. This can be an efficient and cost effective way of resolving a dispute not covered by the NSO’s rules. However, the NSO has to agree to the matter going to the Tribunal.
  • If the NSO has a sports related dispute with another organisation or a person, the Tribunal may be able to assist in settling the matter or helping the parties come to an agreement. This could apply to a number of different situations, eg: interpreting contracts. As the cost of referring such cases to the Tribunal is $250 per party, the Tribunal’s assistance is likely to be much cheaper for the parties than if they use private arbitrators or mediators.

See Dispute types and process for further information and the steps involved in the process.

Legal Assistance Panel

Parties don’t have to have a representative to appear before the Tribunal. The Tribunal will ensure that all parties have the opportunity to put their case, whether or not they have a representative.

However, it can be of benefit to parties to have a lawyer assisting or representing them. The Tribunal has established a legal assistance panel scheme. Through this scheme, skilled and experienced sports lawyers are available on a low cost, or in some cases free, basis to help parties involved in cases before the Tribunal. The Tribunal can provide parties with a list of contact details for these lawyers.

This scheme is not restricted to athletes but also applies equally to any NSO who would like such assistance. See Legal Assistance Panel or contact the Registrar for further details.

The Registrar is happy to answer any questions you may have in relation to the above matters or any other Tribunal related matter. See Contact.

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