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BCCI, Cricket

Who’s going to play IPL 2018?

And just as important, who will Dhoni play for? Credit: The Indian Express

We know now which teams are going to be in the semifinals of IPL 2017, but which teams are going to be playing in the 2018 season? The answer isn’t all that clear.

Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians are the two most profitable teams in the IPL and also those with the largest fan followings (only rivalled by that of Chennai Super Kings), so it’s little wonder that they are among the few who will definitely play IPL 2018 under their existing management. Sunrisers Hyderabad are also looking comfortable. Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, and Royal Challengers Bangalore will also feature in IPL 2018, but there are rumours that the poor return on investment made in Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI will lead to partial or total buyout.

The remaining contenders are:

Chennai Super Kings

The Franchisee Agreement contains a one-sided ‘disrepute clause’ allowing the BCCI to terminate the Agreement if the “Franchise, any Franchisee Group Company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, the Franchisee, the Team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket.” This is a ridiculously wide clause, but the BCCI would nevertheless have been well within its rights to exercise it in the case of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. However, after initially terminating CSK and RR, the BCCI ultimately only suspended the Franchisees’ right to field a team in the League. BCCI CEO Rahul Johri has now reportedly confirmed that CSK and RR will replace Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions. 1Nikhil, ‘BCCI CEO Rahul Johri confirms return of CSK, RR in IPL 2018’ CricTracker (1 May 2017) https://www.crictracker.com/bcci-ceo-rahul-johri-confirms-return-csk-rr-ipl-2018/; Dharmendra Pandey, ‘आइपीएल-11 से बाहर होंगी गुजरात लायंस व राइजिंग पुणे सुपरजाएंट : जौहरी’ Dainik Jagran (Bareilly, 29 April 2017) http://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/bareilly-city-gujrat-lions-and-rising-pune-superjaints-will-not-be-in-action-in-ipl11-15941053.html

Franchisees have no assets: CSK’s primary assets, player contracts, were terminated by virtue of their suspension from the League, they owned no real estate and only had a right to sell tickets at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai and collect the majority of the revenue, and presently, the only asset remaining is the intellectual property and the goodwill generated. If CSK return, they may enjoy some fan following (which will translate into sponsorship and ticket revenue) even if their team lacks the stars that generated that following like Dhoni, Raina, Ashwin, Jadeja, and Bravo. However, if the same process is followed as when Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions were introduced, CSK and RR could have first rights over the RPSG and GL’s players and get alternate picks in a draft system.

Rajasthan Royals

Like CSK, Rajasthan was initially terminated and subsequently placed in suspension. However, RR fares even worse than CSK, since it never had the same fan following, sponsor interest, or financial backing as CSK did. Further, while it was only Gurunath Meiyappan in CSK who was caught betting, three RR players were given life bans for fixing. Such negative press would obviously keep sponsors away, though there are rumours that the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group has bought Rajasthan Royals (see below).

Gujarat Lions

The new franchises explicitly have a lifespan of two years, and also reportedly do not have any right of first refusal if the League is ever expanded to include more teams. Intex, which owns Gujarat Lions, have till now expressed no plans to be associated with the IPL from 2018. It seems that ownership of an IPL franchise for them was solely to promote the Intex brand, whose sales have multiplied in recent years, as well as for the personal prestige of the founders.

Rising Pune Supergiant

The R.P. Sanjiv Goenka Group (or the individuals behind it) have been been interested in owning an IPL team since before 2015. Though IPL 2018 won’t see Rising Pune Supergiant, the Group may still own a team. There were reported talks to buy Delhi Daredevils from GMR previously, and they could still float the acronym “RPSG” if they purchased the franchise rights from Jaipur IPL Cricket Pvt. Ltd. (the majority owners of Rajasthan Royals), though it could not be called Rising Pune Supergiant, and would have to be branded as a team from Jaipur/Rajasthan (it could even be “Rajasthan Royals” if they purchase the intellectual property rights from Jaipur IPL Cricket).

Kochi Tuskers Kerala

That’s right. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd., the company which owns the Kochi Tuskers from Kerala (where else? Mexico?) have won in arbitration proceedings against the BCCI. As per the terms of the Franchisee Agreement, Kochi Tuskers was required to provide an unconditional bank guarantee as a performance deposit, which it failed to do. Kochi Tuskers stated that it was not in breach of the Agreement as the performance contemplated was in respect of 95 matches (in keeping with the contemplated 10 team tournament), whereas the suspension of two teams, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, had reduced the number of matches to only 74. The sole arbitrator, former Chief Justice of India, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.C. Lahoti, awarded Rs. 550cr in damages to Kochi Tuskers. The BCCI reportedly are not in a position to pay this amount.

The BCCI filed petitions to set aside the arbitral award, which are pending. 2Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. ARBP 1752/2015, Bom. HC It also unsuccessfully challenged proceedings by Kochi Tuskers to enforce the award, and its appeal before the Supreme Court is pending. 3Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. & Etc. S.L.P. (Civ.) 19545-19546/2016, SC Though the same is in issue before the Supreme Court and there are differing views on this, 4see Rendezvous Sports World v. Board of Control for Cricket in India 2016 SCCOnline Bom 6064; Ajay Mehra v. Enercon GmbH C.H.S.C.D. (L) 19/2017, Bom. HC, judgement of 02.03.2017; and Tufan Chatterjee v. Rangan Dhar AIR 2016 Cal 213, as against Ardee Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. v. Anuradha Bhatia 2017 SCCOnline Del 6402 I am of the view that as per the law as it stood then, the award cannot be enforced while the petitions to set aside the award are pending. Nevertheless, with the narrow scope of challenge to arbitral awards, it would be a difficult task for the BCCI to have the same set aside, and the Rs. 550cr amount would eventually be payable.

It is reported that Kochi Tuskers are interested in securing re-entry into the IPL instead of the damages awarded, 5Amol Karhadkar, ‘Kochi Tuskers seek IPL re-entry after winning arbitration’ ESPNCricinfo (8 July 2015) <http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/895393.html> though the BCCI as of 2015 was opposed to this despite the huge sum they may potentially have to pay in damages. 6‘Rajeev Shukla rules out return of Kochi Tuskers Kerala’ Cricket Country (16 July 2015) <http://www.cricketcountry.com/news/rajeev-shukla-rules-out-return-of-kochi-tuskers-kerala-307047> So don’t count Kochi Tuskers out yet.

Pune Warriors India

Sahara Adventures Sports Ltd., which owned the Pune Warriors team, placed a whopping USD 370mn bid, to be paid over ten years. After the removal of two teams from the League, Sahara requested a reduction in franchise fees on account of the lower revenue that would accrue from a smaller number of games. The dispute was referred to the sole arbitration of former Supreme Court judge, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.V. Raveendran. 7Sahara Adventures Sports Ltd. v. Board of Control for Cricket in India Arb. Appl. 160/2013, Bom. H.C., order of 02.09.2014 As on September 2016, the arbitration is pending. However, if an award is passed in favour of Pune Warriors, as in the case of Kochi Tuskers, Pune Warriors may be in a position to negotiate re-entry in place of damages. However, given the speed of the legal process, this may not happen in time for the 2018 season.

Deccan Chargers

The BCCI terminated its Franchisee Agreement with Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd., owner of Deccan Chargers after the latter’s failure to give a Rs. 100cr bank guarantee.

The dispute was submitted to arbitration before the former Judge of the Supreme Court, the Hon’ble Justice Mr. C.K. Thakkar, and as on September 2016, the proceedings are still pending. Deccan Chargers are reportedly very interested after hearing the result of the Kochi Tuskers arbitration. 8Jayanta Oinam, ‘Deccan Chargers takes cue from Kochi Tuskers, eyes IPL comeback’ Zee News (17 July 2015) <http://zeenews.india.com/sports/cricket/ipl/deccan-chargers-takes-cue-from-kochi-tuskers-eyes-ipl-comeback_1631593.html> Given that Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd. unsuccessfully tried selling the team 9S Bridget Leena and others, ‘Deccan Chargers’ auction scores a duck; lone bid is rejected’ Live Mint (Chennai/Hyderabad, 13 September 2012) <http://www.livemint.com/Companies/BfSFHMqwo2T2NUvlCPE8lK/Deccan-Chronicle-rejects-Rs900-crore-bid-for-Deccan-Chargers.html> and is having its assets auctioned to repay creditors, it is difficult at a glance to give credence to its legal claim, and such statements appear to only be tools to twist the BCCI into a cash settlement.

References   [ + ]

1. Nikhil, ‘BCCI CEO Rahul Johri confirms return of CSK, RR in IPL 2018’ CricTracker (1 May 2017) https://www.crictracker.com/bcci-ceo-rahul-johri-confirms-return-csk-rr-ipl-2018/; Dharmendra Pandey, ‘आइपीएल-11 से बाहर होंगी गुजरात लायंस व राइजिंग पुणे सुपरजाएंट : जौहरी’ Dainik Jagran (Bareilly, 29 April 2017) http://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/bareilly-city-gujrat-lions-and-rising-pune-superjaints-will-not-be-in-action-in-ipl11-15941053.html
2. Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. ARBP 1752/2015, Bom. HC
3. Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. & Etc. S.L.P. (Civ.) 19545-19546/2016, SC
4. see Rendezvous Sports World v. Board of Control for Cricket in India 2016 SCCOnline Bom 6064; Ajay Mehra v. Enercon GmbH C.H.S.C.D. (L) 19/2017, Bom. HC, judgement of 02.03.2017; and Tufan Chatterjee v. Rangan Dhar AIR 2016 Cal 213, as against Ardee Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. v. Anuradha Bhatia 2017 SCCOnline Del 6402
5. Amol Karhadkar, ‘Kochi Tuskers seek IPL re-entry after winning arbitration’ ESPNCricinfo (8 July 2015) <http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/895393.html>
6. ‘Rajeev Shukla rules out return of Kochi Tuskers Kerala’ Cricket Country (16 July 2015) <http://www.cricketcountry.com/news/rajeev-shukla-rules-out-return-of-kochi-tuskers-kerala-307047>
7. Sahara Adventures Sports Ltd. v. Board of Control for Cricket in India Arb. Appl. 160/2013, Bom. H.C., order of 02.09.2014
8. Jayanta Oinam, ‘Deccan Chargers takes cue from Kochi Tuskers, eyes IPL comeback’ Zee News (17 July 2015) <http://zeenews.india.com/sports/cricket/ipl/deccan-chargers-takes-cue-from-kochi-tuskers-eyes-ipl-comeback_1631593.html>
9. S Bridget Leena and others, ‘Deccan Chargers’ auction scores a duck; lone bid is rejected’ Live Mint (Chennai/Hyderabad, 13 September 2012) <http://www.livemint.com/Companies/BfSFHMqwo2T2NUvlCPE8lK/Deccan-Chronicle-rejects-Rs900-crore-bid-for-Deccan-Chargers.html>
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BCCI, Cricket

Understanding IPL contracts – II

Continuing from our last piece on the structure of IPL player contracts, we look at a few issues relating to player salaries and endorsements.

The salaries of IPL stars are dizzying and among the highest per week for athletes around the world. However, top players today play more days of cricket than ever before, and while the IPL is the most lucrative, players are often called away for their international duties, and may in the future even be tempted away by leagues in other parts of the world. IPL franchises aren’t going to shell out millions for a player not to be available to them, but without an official window cleared for the IPL in the international calendar, can’t enforce total exclusivity. So how are IPL player salaries typically worked out?

Players receive annually the price they fetched at the auction for the duration of their contract. The duration of the contract is set by the BCCI prior to the auction. In the first edition of the IPL, players were signed for 3 years. In later years, as year-on-year player valuations began to change dramatically on form or marketability, the trend became 1+1 or 1+2 (one year with an option to retain given to the franchise). This is good for franchises, who can hold on to core players without paying amounts inflated by the auction, but may not be good for players like Ravindra Jadeja and Shane Watson, who were stuck with the low salaries they were initially signed on, even when their valuation increased dramatically (to illustrate, Shane Watson was bought by Rajasthan Royals at $125,000 (about Rs. 70 lakhs) in 2008, but has seen his value increase every year till he was the most expensive player in the 2016 auction at Rs. 9.5cr).

Player fees are not quite pro rata, but if a player makes himself unavailable in order to play for his country or state, or by reason of other personal commitments, or by suffering an injury prior to the start of the IPL season, then his fees are reduced proportionately. In other words, if a player leaves after the first half of the league stage, i.e. seven games, he will be paid only 50% if his team does not make the playoffs, and less still depending on how many playoff matches it qualifies for. If a player is injured during the season and is unable to play in some or all the matches in the season, then his fees may be reduced by up to 50%.

The big money in sport, however, isn’t from salaries or winnings, but from endorsements. Personal endorsements aside, IPL contracts also include obligations to participate in promotional activities. A player may be required to appear in promotional material for team sponsors or to promote the IPL themselves. This includes the players’ likenesses, voice, or anything distinctive about them. The promo for the 2016 season involving large models of the players comes readily to mind.

However, unlike other leagues like the EPL or NBA, the IPL doesn’t occupy the majority of the cricket calendar and players’ are best known for their participation in international cricket, rather than in the IPL. When the IPL began, especially, it disrupted existing sponsorship agreements. For sponsors, the primary risk is that an individual player may be seen as endorsing a rival brand to his individual sponsor. For example, in 2011, Sachin Tendulkar had an individual sponsorship contract with Coca Cola, while his team, Mumbai Indians, was sponsored by rival PepsiCo. Such conflicts have existed in cricket prior to the IPL as well, when there was friction caused by Nike being the Indian team sponsor, while Tendulkar was sponsored by Adidas, but with an increase in high profile individual and team sponsorships and the much greater competition between brands for viewer attention, such conflicts are only more pronounced.

However, IPL player contracts try to satisfy sponsors that individuals sponsored by them will not be perceived to be endorsing rival brands by appearing in promotional activities as members of their IPL team. In such cases where such a risk exists, players may not appear individually, but only in groups of three or more 1‘IPL stresses norms to protect brand endorsements (23 March 2011) Economic Times, http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-03-23/news/29178288_1_franchisee-mumbai-indians-brands/2. With every sponsor naturally keen on featuring stars like Virat Kohli and M.S. Dhoni prominently, sponsors and teams must walk a fine line in avoiding the impression of individual sponsorship.

Teams, sponsors, and players also have to be careful when handling religious and cultural sensibilities. Cheerleaders, post-game parties, and sponsorship by liquor brands have all been aspects of the IPL that have faced criticism. Apart from the public, many players would also be uncomfortable if their team endorsed alcohol, tobacco, or condoms 2Sai Prasad Mohapatra, ‘Condom brand ad on jersey leaves Kings XI Punjab players blushing’ Hindustan Times (9 April 2015) <http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/condom-brand-ad-on-jersey-leaves-kings-xi-punjab-players-blushing/story-kjgNViZAWWUNIv5nMf3npM.html>. Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia have had to negotiate with Castle Lager and Victoria Bitter respectively to allow Muslim players such as Hashim Amla, Wayne Parnell and Fawad Ahmed to turn out in a team kit bearing no liquor branding. To the best of my knowledge, the Indian cricket team has never been sponsored by such brands, and it would be risky on the BCCI’s part to create such a direct association between them and the national side.

IPL sides, however, are not burdened with the same responsibilities, and it is hard to resist the lure of such money when they face competition for sponsorship opportunities with seven other IPL teams, plus other sports and entertainment offerings. Thus, IPL teams have been sponsored by Kingfisher, Manforce condoms, etc. However, they must negotiate with both sponsors, who are likely to offer less money if certain players do not bear their branding, as well as with players lest they refuse to play or create bad press. Pune Warriors’ Parvez Rasool initially wore the jersey without realising that it bore the logo of a liquor brand, and later upon discovery, masked the logo with tape 3Devendra Pandey, ‘Parvez Rasool says no to liquor logo’ The Indian Express (Mumbai, 12 May 2013) <http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/rasool-says-no-to-liquor-logo/1114627/>. While the team later agreed to respect his wishes, it might have created a problem if they hadn’t. Sachin Tendulkar has said that he has never endorsed tobacco or alcohol 4‘Never endorsed tobacco, alcohol’ The Hindu (Kochi, 28 March 2016) <http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sachin-tendulkar-says-never-endorsed-tobacco-alcohol/article7619753.ece>, but hasn’t refused to appear in a group in ads such the one below:

Clearly, the perceptions of many have to be handled.

References   [ + ]

1. ‘IPL stresses norms to protect brand endorsements (23 March 2011) Economic Times, http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-03-23/news/29178288_1_franchisee-mumbai-indians-brands/2
2. Sai Prasad Mohapatra, ‘Condom brand ad on jersey leaves Kings XI Punjab players blushing’ Hindustan Times (9 April 2015) <http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/condom-brand-ad-on-jersey-leaves-kings-xi-punjab-players-blushing/story-kjgNViZAWWUNIv5nMf3npM.html>
3. Devendra Pandey, ‘Parvez Rasool says no to liquor logo’ The Indian Express (Mumbai, 12 May 2013) <http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/rasool-says-no-to-liquor-logo/1114627/>
4. ‘Never endorsed tobacco, alcohol’ The Hindu (Kochi, 28 March 2016) <http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sachin-tendulkar-says-never-endorsed-tobacco-alcohol/article7619753.ece>
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BCCI, Cricket

Understanding IPL player contracts – I

Credit: BCCI

With the 2017 IPL auction just round the corner, it’s worth looking at how IPL player contracts are structured, and what players and their agents should know about them.

Player contracts are ultimately subordinate contracts to the patchwork of agreements entered into between the BCCI, Franchisees, players, and other parties such as the IPL Operational Rules, Code of Conduct for Players and Team Officials, Franchisee Agreement, etc. Continue reading

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BCCI, Courts

4 Consequences of the Supreme Court’s BCCI Order

Credit: PTI

While the 2 January order of the Supreme Court removing BCCI President Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke ought not to have come as a surprise to the BCCI and Anurag Thakur, who appear to have been in clear contempt of court by the BCCI’s failure to implement the Lodha Committee’s recommendations in toto, it would have sent tremors through the BCCI and its member associations. Here are the 4 most likely fallouts of the order:

  • The Panel of Administrators – The Supreme Court will now appoint a panel of administrators to govern the BCCI. It has appointed Senior Counsel Mr. Fali Nariman and Mr. Gopal Subramanium as amicus curaie to nominate candidates and will pass its order appointing the administrators on 19 January 2017. It remains to be seen which names are selected. The recommendations of the Lodha Committee ought to be followed when considering candidates, and the Supreme Court rightly rejected the suggestion that former Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai be appointed as interim President when made by the Committee. It is also hoped that proper administrative experience is taken into account. While it is true that the election of several politician-administrators and the relative exclusion of former players/athletes have harmed sports governance, it does not become a universal rule that former players (especially those lacking administrative and/or organisational experience or education) will be better administrators than politicians or bureaucrats (who often have such experience). It also certainly does not follow that sports governing bodies should consist exclusively of former players. In an interim order dated 28 March 2014, 1Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Cricket Assn. of Bihar & Ors. SLP (C) 25027/2013 the BCCI appointed Sunil Gavaskar as the interim commissioner of the IPL. While Mr. Gavaskar’s credentials as a cricketer are excellent, the record does not bear out any discussion of his administrative qualifications or the consideration of other candidates. The Court was satisfied by Mr. Gavaskar’s experience in playing cricket, which, it must be said, was as of the 70s and 80s. It is possible that the Hon’ble Justices A.K. Patnaik and F.A.I. Kalifulla were influenced by the fact that Mr. Gavaskar was the sporting hero of their time. With the appointment of Mr. Fali Nariman (87) and Mr. Gopal Subramanium (56) as amicus curiae, it is possible that the appointees will similarly not have played the contemporary game.

  • Forthcoming international series – India are scheduled to play three ODIs and two T20Is against England in January, followed by one Test against Bangladesh and four against Australia in February-March. Apart from the impact of the change of guard at the BCCI, if the new Panel is keen on implementing the Lodha Committee recommendations in full (i.e. to the extent accepted by the Supreme Court) and with immediate effect, then it is possible that only those state associations which have accepted the Lodha Committee recommendations in full (Hyderabad, Rajasthan, Vidarbha, and Tripura) will be allowed to host the matches. This is unlikely to affect the first two ODIs against England (on 15 and 19 January 2017 respectively), since the Panel will only be appointed from 19 January 2017, but of the remaining eight international games before the IPL, only one is in a ‘compliant’ centre (and Tripura has no international stadium). These matches may therefore be shifted or even cancelled, racking up further costs for the BCCI after the PCB planned to sue the BCCI for refusing to hold an India-Pakistan series. However, the financial damage caused by such an order would most likely force the errant state associations to fall in line, with the Andhra Pradesh Cricket Association already having done so.

  • The IPL calendar and auction – The auction was tentatively scheduled for 4 February 2017. Despite the change of guard at the BCCI’s helm, the auction must go on, else it would disrupt the scheduling of the IPL. It has also been suggested that the IPL not be held this year while the BCCI is rescheduled. However, such a move would bury the BCCI in legal disputes, and further erode the IPL’s reputation as a business investment. No responsible administrator would take such a drastic step. The IPL team owners are reportedly already  discontent with the lack of communication from the BCCI regarding the IPL.

  • IPL media rights – Sony’s media rights contract expires at the end of the 2017 IPL season, and the BCCI are auctioning TV rights in the Indian Sub-continent for 10 seasons, along with digital rights in the Indian Sub-continent and all media rights in the Rest of the World for five seasons each. 18 companies bought the invitation to tender from companies ranging from Star India, Sony, and ESPN to Reliance Jio, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. However, as per the order dated 21 October 2016 of the Supreme Court, the BCCI may not transact any business pertaining to the year 2016-17 until the Lodha Committee recommendations are implemented in full, and in particular, all contracts above a threshold limit set by the Committee must be approved by the Committee. This includes the awarding of IPL media rights, and pursuant thereto, outgoing BCCI Secretary Mr. Shirke wrote a letter dated 21 October  requesting directions pertaining to the auction. The Lodha Committee requested some factual clarifications thereto, which Mr. Shirke provided in a subsequent letter dated 24 October 2016. However, the Committee requested for further details regarding several contracts including the IPL media rights contract to enable it to set the threshold limit. There has been no further communication going by the Lodha Committee’s releases. These rights are therefore in limbo, and rights holders (especially those that have not been in the business of content distribution in India) would require time to assemble the infrastructure required. The number and amount of the bids finally placed would therefore be severely affected if the matter is not resolved at the earliest.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Cricket Assn. of Bihar & Ors. SLP (C) 25027/2013
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Uncategorized

Vijay Goel’s Twitter Q&A: Takeaways

Taken from @VijayGoelBJP Twitter profile

Minister of State (Independent Charge) handling Youth Affairs And Sports, Mr. Vijay Goel, held a Twitter Q&A session today. Naturally, many of the questions were relating to the development and administration of sports. We look at some of his responses.

We posed several questions to Mr. Goel, which you can see by following ISLB on Twitter. The only question he responded to was this one:

He promised that work was being done to improve the transparency of NADA, but was non-committal about the publication of decisions. He did not respond to the follow-up question:

Questions on the BCCI were inevitable. Here’s a response to one tweet calling for action against the BCCI similar to that taken against the IOA:

Curiously, he spoke of the government’s desire to reform the BCCI. However, he did not comment on any questions relating to the Draft National Sports Development Bill, 2013, which was drafted under the previous UPA government, but was never introduced in Parliament, and studiously avoided questions on the presence of politicians (several of whom have been accused of corruption and unaccountability) in sports governing bodies.

Several tweets raised local grievances:

He invited suggestions in response to such tweets, along with those alleging corruption in the Volleyball Association, to allegations of a lack of sports infrastructure, and to those desiring to give more detailed suggestions.

Mr. Goel had quite a lot to say about football. India is hosting the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017, and after the corruption fiasco in the Commonwealth Games, 2010 as well as the high profile corruption unearthed at FIFA, scrutiny is expected of the U17 WC. Mr. Goel also referred to a nationwide mission to promote football.

Mr. Goel also mentioned that appointment of coaches (foreign and domestic) with an eye on Tokyo 2020 was underway, invited suggestions for the improvement of rural sports, and as also a talent search portal in the works to connect promising young athletes with the Sports Authority of India. However, Mr. Goel did not comment on our other questions relating to sports administration, including legal aid and funding for athletes to appeal before CAS (problems we have highlighted here and here) or the publication of decisions of the NADA ADDP (highlighted here). On a whole, it was not a very illuminating session, but taking questions from the public is an encouraging step for the Sports Ministry.

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CAS, Tennis, Tribunals

What Athletes Should Learn from Maria Sharapova’s Ban

(photo credits: AFP)

I. The Facts

A sample collected from Maria Sharapova following her quarter-final match against Serena Williams in the Australian Open on 26 January 2016 tested positive for meldonium, a substance that had been added to the WADA Prohibited List only with effect from 1 January 2016. Sharapova admitted to taking meldonium.

Sharapova stated that she had been taking medication called Mildronate, which contained meldonium, for over ten years, but was not aware that meldonium had been added to the Prohibited List with effect from 1 January 2016.

There have been suspicions raised in the media about meldonium, given that it is prescribed for human therapeutic use in Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and other Eastern European countries (barring a few, Russian athletes were banned from participating in the Rio Olympics following a damning report of State sponsored doping,1Richard H. McLaren, “The Independent Person Report” (18 July 2016), https://wada-main-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/files/20160718_ip_report_newfinal.pdf. ) and a large number of athletes found doping based on samples collected during or around the Beijing, London, Sochi, and Rio Olympics have been from Eastern European countries), but is not approved for human use in the USA or EU. While meldonium is prescribed for ischaemic heart and cerebrovascular ailments (which restrict blood flow to tissues, thereby hindering cellular metabolism), it also appears to increase stamina, thereby enhancing athletic performance.

II. What Went Wrong

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References   [ + ]

1. Richard H. McLaren, “The Independent Person Report” (18 July 2016), https://wada-main-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/files/20160718_ip_report_newfinal.pdf.
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CAS, Olympics, Wrestling

WADA v Narsingh Yadav – Who’s to Blame?

After contradictory reports and statements were made in the media, the saga of Narsingh Yadav gains some clarity with the publication of the CAS decision overturning the decision of the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) exonerating him.1

Narsingh Yadav’s disqualification after his having been sent to Rio cost India a shot at an Olympic medal in the 74kg category in the men’s freestyle wrestling event. The question being asked, naturally, is who is to blame? The CAS decision does shed some light.

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Boxing

Laishram Sarita Devi’s Lasting Impact on Indian Sports Law

Laishram Sarita Devi

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Indian boxer Laishram Sarita Devi recently made the news when she failed to make it past the second round of the Women’s World Boxing Championships held in Astana, Kazakhstan in May along with Indian boxing star M C Mary Kom, thereby failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics.1

However, readers may remember Sarita Devi when she refused to accept her bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon after being declared the loser in her semifinal bout in a controversial decision. She alleged bias on the part of the judges, and indeed, it appeared that that she had been dominating throughout her bout. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials failed to support her and she had to borrow money from a journalist in order to lodge her protest against the decision. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) banned her for a year.

An ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) was in operation at the Games, but Sarita Devi was perhaps unaware of this. While the IOA later stated that they would support and fund her appeal, her crucial moment to approach the ad hoc division (which decides disputes within 24 hours) was lost.

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Athletics, BCCI, CAS, Olympics

The Curious Case of Dutee Chand

Dutee Chand


Earlier this week, Indian sprinter Dutee Chand qualified for the Rio Olympics in the women’s 100m event, but the journey hasn’t been easy.

In 2014, she underwent a routine doping test in which it was found that she had unusually high levels of testosterone. Testosterone doping was common in both male and female athletes in the 1980s as the substance contributes to performance, and was difficult to detect as it is produced naturally in the body. However, Dutee Chand had not doped on testosterone, but had a condition called ‘hyperandrogenism’, by which her body naturally produced higher levels of testosterone than is typical in women. The regulations of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), the world governing body of athletics, prescribed that athletes with testosterone levels above 10nmol/L could not compete in women’s events, and, bound by the regulations, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) suspended Dutee Chand.

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