Document Type



Athletes in a professional sports league in the United States are members of players unions, which assist their athletes in obtaining representation when they are involved in dispute resolution proceedings associated with disciplinary actions. However, individual athletes who participate in international competitions do not enjoy the same benefits. When these athletes are required to submit to mandatory drug testing, with attendant potential criminal liability, and to mandatory arbitration, they should be provided meaningful access to competent legal representation when their athletic careers are in jeopardy. This article considers the legal framework, process, and recourse for athletes in international competition to address sporting eligibility and disciplinary actions. Particular attention is paid to the perspective of the accused athlete facing ineligiblity sanction from sporting competition. The article describes the rules and governing bodies in Olympic and international sporting competition pursuant to the Olympic Charter, which provides the regulatory framework for international sports, mandating subjection of the athletes’ eligibility and disciplinary cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, and charging the World Anti-Doping Program (WADP) with administering mandatory drug testing of athletes. The article also examines the interplay between the doping arbitration rules and an athlete’s right to a fair hearing, identifying the signficant procedural barriers in the designated arbitral process. In addition, it considers options for providing athletes with improved access to justice through procedural changes and access to legal advice and representation, including expert scientific evaluation, as well as other forms of legal assistance and insurance programs when contesting liability and jeopardy.