Tag Archives: regulation

Pushing the Possibilities in Extreme Sports – Is stricter regulation necessary?

November 8, 2014

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By Kimberly Jensen – Thompson Rivers University 2L JD Student

Since when has performing front flips on snowmobiles been thought to be possible? With high stakes, such as paralysis or death, what is driving the exponential development of extreme athletes’ ‘bags of tricks’? Is it their individual desire for excitement or is it pressures from competition and sponsors? The answer to whether stricter regulation of extreme sports is necessary depends on what the catalyst for progression is.

Recently, three athletes died in two separate avalanches in South America while filming ski segments for marketing. While these deaths were not part of a regulated activity, they are illustrative of the risks athletes take. The film industry and the competition circuit are two very different components in the life of an extreme sports athlete.

Apart from those two components of the professional version of extreme sports, there is also a recreational component that sees people privately participating, solely for the enjoyment of pushing their comfort levels.

Extreme Sports Films

It is up to athletes to resist pressure and make choices rather than be pressured by sponsors to film, however regulation (if feasible in any form) may be desirable because of the trickle down influence from films to the general population.   The footage from films is often seen as inspiration for recreationalists looking to emulate what professionals do, leading to ambitions overstepping ability.

A factor making it hard to regulate films is that often, film segments are freelance. Athletes make clips then try and sell them to production companies, or even just edit and post them online. The near impossibility and impracticality of regulating the freelance film producers may be unfortunate for safety standards, however there are freedoms that individuals should be accorded and this seems to fit into that category.

Extreme Sports Competitions

The purses at the top competitions for extreme sports are not comparable to traditional sports, however, they are increasing – $3,000,000 is given out in prize money at each X Games. With this kind of money on the line, the athletes are motivated to engage in risky behavior.

It seems that defenders of competitions always proffer the same arguments – athletes have assumed risk and understand possible consequences. While these points are true, is a race or trick worth dying for? Recently, in response to fatalities during competition, the FIS and X Games have made modifications to create a safer arena for athletes. The X Games even dropped Snowmobile Best Trick category because it had no purpose other than for athletes to engage in risky behavior. This is a great reaction, and sets the tone for reigning in extreme sports competitions for the sake of safety, which I propose athletes deserve.

Recreational Participation in Extreme Sports

As long as suicide is legal, it seems the question of whether participation in non-commercialized extreme sports can be regulated answers itself: no. Currently, some locations available for engaging in extreme sports are regulated; other than that, participants have freedom to do as they wish. Part of the issue here is that often the sports happen in natural locations that are not developed by anyone, so there is no one to regulate except the participants themselves. Regulation may drive the sports underground, however it is not likely to increase safety.

What Is the Catalyst and Is Stricter Regulation Necessary?

Many athletes claim to be motivated by their inherent desire to push the limits and progress in their chosen sports. Climbing mountains because they’re there or taking up wing-suit flying without any sponsors, cameras or competitions in sight suggests that at least some people are driven to participate in these sports appreciating these inherent risks and not motivated by commercial forces.

In the day of ‘Kodak Courage’, significant sponsorship dollars and prize money, it may not be possible for athletes to be immune to external pressures and self regulate. The culture of extreme sports is often that of enjoying an alternative lifestyle, where money is not really a concern beyond being able to afford the appropriate sports equipment. Athletes that have been inducted into this culture are reluctant to recognize external commercial pressure – it is not part of who they want to be, nor is it part of the image they want to convey.

Even though athletes seem to voluntarily assume these risks, it seems to me that the modern industry thriving from extreme sports should bear some responsibility for safety of athletes. Extreme sports will continue to progress, injuries and deaths will continue to happen and regulations will never be enough to eliminate the inherent risk of flying a wing-suit through a hole in a cliff. Yes, there are arguments that the whole point of extreme sports is to continue the progression toward the edge of possible, however there are ‘safer’ ways in which it can be done, and participation should be because it is what the athlete ‘needs’ for self-actualization.

The law needs to keep people safe, however it must also allow people fundamental freedoms. In extreme sports, perhaps safety and maintaining freedom of athletes to participate are not mutually exclusive and a balance will be found between regulation and participation.

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Is Sepp Blatter the new poster boy for “sports law”?

November 18, 2011

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Photograph licensed by Agencia Brasil under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Brazil license.

In recent days it has been difficult to avoid the furore surrounding Sepp Blatter (President of FIFA)’s recent comments concerning what he sees as the new approach to treat racism in sport:

“I would deny it. There is no racism.  There is maybe one of the players towards another – he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.”  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/nov/17/sepp-blatter-fifa-racism-rio-ferdinand?newsfeed=true)

In the current UK climate where two high-profile premiership footballers are currently being investigated by The Football Association over, as yet unproven, allegations made against them of making racist comments (which both players vehemently deny), Blatter’s recent interview is at best ill-informed, at worst it represents an attempt to trivialise and condone racist language.

Many players (current and former), pundits, administrators and politicians have rightly come out and strongly condemned Blatter’s comments, however until the commercial sponsors also seek to distance themselves from FIFA, I fear that the status quo will continue and this will not be the last controversial statement emanating from FIFA house. After all, President Blatter offended female players in 2004 with his suggestion to enhance the women’s game through players wearing:

‘tighter shorts and low cut shirts… to create a more female aesthetic.

and his 2008 assertion that:

‘there are gay footballers, but they don’t declare it because it will not be accepted in these macho organisations. Look at women’s football – homosexuality is more popular there

Indeed, he clearly warmed to this theme of homophobia, returning to it in 2010 with advice to gay rights campaigners to ‘refrain from any sexual activities’ to avoid breaking any laws and offending the World Cup hosts in Qatar!

What are the odds then on Blatter offending disabled footballers next in his attempts to discriminate against everyone equally?

 

Much ink, column space and tweets have been spilled dissecting his most recent comments, but everybody seems to be missing something, is Sepp Blatter not in fact the new poster boy for “sports law”?

So what do I mean by this? It has long been a perennial (and somewhat dry) academic debate as to whether sports law exists. Is sport special, where what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch, immune from the laws of the land (sports law)? Or should offences be punished wherever and whenever they occur irrespective of the fact they might occur on a sportsfield (sport and the law)? Or is there some sort of middle ground where we take into account the context of the game being played (applied sports law).

When the latest player gets carted off injured, there is inevitably a reluctance for the law to become involved for fears that it might lead to a sterilization of the sport and the vigour with which it is played. However is this not what Sepp is also clumsily advocating (only in the context of racism rather than personal injury), as such, is this not simply a manifestation of an extreme view of what could happen if we allow sport to completely self-regulate itself?

While his comments on racism are rightly condemned, we can see similar language already exists in relation to personal injury, for example, compare Blatter’s later comments on the FIFA website:

“My comments have been misunderstood. What I wanted to express is that, as football players, during a match, you have ‘battles’ with your opponents, and sometimes things are done which are wrong. But, normally, at the end of the match, you apologise to your opponent if you had a confrontation during the match, you shake hands, and when the game is over, it is over.” 

With the well-known Canadian criminal law ice-hockey case of Agar v Canning (1965) 54 WWR 302, 304:

“The conduct of a player in the heat of the game is instinctive and unpremeditated and should not be judged by standards suited to polite social intercourse.”

Isn’t Blatter merely taking this Agar personal injury concept to the next level and attempting to apply it to every incident on the sports pitch (or on this occasion as an ill-thought out and unacceptable attempt to try to excuse or condone racist behaviour).

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, former player turned pundit, Garth Crooks was quoted as saying that:

“Football has to be very careful. It’s the one industry that somehow sees itself as above the law. It is not. Players, however glorified, are employees and have to abide by the law. Sepp is a man out of time and out of touch.”

However maybe it is actually the rest of us that have to be very careful. With every reaction against verdicts like:

  • the Bosman ruling, or Karen Murphy’s recent European Court victory in her challenge against the Premier League and Sky Sports,
  • the 2010 case of Sagen v. VANOC where Canadian courts upheld womens ski-jumpers argument that their ban from the Winter Olympics was discriminatory but ultimately held that there was nothing that could be done in the face of a lack of constitutional jurisdiction over the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
  • government ‘meddling’ in the governance arrangements of national governing bodies
  • and perhaps more importantly the impending FC Sion legal dispute

maybe we are actually inching ever closer to Blatter’s extreme view where it is unaccountable sporting authorities that control what happens on the pitch unregulated and effectively immune from any national or international legislation?

The reaction against Blatter’s comments from all walks of life gives me some hope that maybe we are not as far down this route as we might have initially appeared to be, the question now for the public and administrators to decide is how ‘special is sport’ and to what degree do we expect it to meet minimum standards of governance, transparency and equality? Or put simply how far do we trust sport to regulate itself?

Quia Custodet Ipsos Custodes?

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Contemporary Issues in Sports Law and Practice 2011

November 15, 2011

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Friday November 4, 2011

Over the weekend, I finally managed to collate my various thoughts and notes into some semblance of order.

Firstly, our thanks must go to De Montfort University (DMU) and the British Association for Sport and the Law (BASL) for hosting what was once again a very enjoyable afternoon of speakers exploring a variety of key sports law topics. The half-day conference heard from six speakers, the first plenary session focusing primarily on football and Europe, the second plenary session focusing more on the investigatory and disciplinary processes behind the scenes:

Nick Craig (Director of Legal Affairs, the Football League) gave a presentation on ‘Financial Fair Play and the Football League’.  While the UEFA Club Licensing Regulations have been in place from the 2004/05 season (the current Licensing Manual is now in its 2nd edition), UEFA have also launched Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFPR) to be applied from the summer of 2011 with the view that all clubs in European competition break-even by 2018. The topic is hot news at the moment in both the mainstream press and more specialist legal coverage.

There were number of particularly interesting points about the contrast between the FFPR being applied in the Premier League as a condition of entry into European competitions, and the Football League (FL) model where the licensing regulations are intended more as a regulatory mechanism to control the clubs and force them to become more sustainable. Legally this agreement with the FL clubs represents a “soft” law approach where the clubs “agree  to actively work to introduce measures”, “increase transparency” and encourage clubs to operate”….  Time will tell how effective the league will be with this increased regulatory authority.

The big stick comes in Article 12(2) of the FFPR which states that:

2 The membership and the contractual relationship (if any) must have lasted – at the start of the licence season – for at least three consecutive years. Any alteration to the club’s legal form or company structure (including, for example, changing its headquarters, name or club colours, or transferring stakeholdings between different clubs) during this period in order to facilitate its qualification on sporting merit and/or its receipt of a licence to the detriment of the integrity of a competition is deemed as an interruption of membership or contractual relationship (if any) within the meaning of this provision.

This clause effectively holds that any club going insolvent restarts this three year process from scratch when it transfers its assets to a new owner, preventing clubs from ditching their debts and picking up where they left off free of all those troublesome creditors.

The devil as always is in the detail though, and while the cornerstone of the FFPR programme is in achieving break-even status, there are loopholes or ‘Acceptable Deviations’. In particular, the ability to lose €5m over the three years covered by the FFPR period (rising to a €45m loss if this is covered by equity contributions) neatly sidesteps the break-even provision, while Annex I A(d) of the FFPR lists an exception for:

d) Non-applicability of the three-year rule defined in Article 12(2) in case of change of legal form or company structure of the licence applicant on a caseby-case basis;   

or put another way, all clubs are equal, but some clubs are more equal than others, particularly if they might be a marquee name with large attendances and gate receipts!

 See also: http://www.financialfairplay.co.uk/ for more information on the FFPR rules

 

Chris Anderson (Associate, Brabners Chaffe Street Solicitors) gave a presentation on ‘Development Compensation for Young Football Players’.  One of the key drivers for this talk was the decision in ECJ – Case C-325/08 Olympique Lyonnais SASP v. Olivier Bernard & Newcastle United FC [41]:

“…In that regard, it must be accepted that, as the Court has already held, the prospect of receiving training fees is likely to encourage football clubs to seek new talent and train young players…”

 This will be a theme, the blog hopes to come back to in the near future, but essentially how much / little should be paid to clubs training (effectively as hot-houses) for new talent.

 Chris drew distinctions between:

  • the FIFA system which compensated for both the training costs of a player (although at times there were concerns these payments were ‘damages-based’ rather than a reflection of the actual training costs), and the ‘solidarity mechanism’ (which effectively acted as a wealth redistribution system to share up to 5% of any transfer between clubs training the player between the ages of 12 and 23).
  • The current domestic system which was based on agreeing costs (either by the agreement with clubs, or by reference to the Professional Football Compensation Committee (PFCC))
  • The proposed NEW domestic ‘Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP)’ provisionally scheduled to start in July 2012. This system was created and driven by the PL to specifically produce greater numbers of talented home-grown players through increased coaching time and a more transparent (and legally defensible) fixed training cost mechanism. The new system is split into three main phases:
    • The Foundation Phase (U9-U11):  every academy charges a flat fee
    • Youth Development Phase (U12-U16): standardised model of fixed payments based on academy status
    • Professional Development Phase (U17-U21): Clubs (or PFCC) agree appropriate fee

 See also alternative perspectives from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulfletcher/2011/02/football_league_fears_over_pla.html; http://www.fiveyearplanfanzine.co.uk/News/football-league-votes-to-back-elite-player-performance-plan.htmlhttp://www.leedsunited.com/news/20111021/united-ceo-on-a-dark-day-for-football_2247585_2489344

 

Simon Boyes (Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University) gave a presentation on ‘Sport and the European Union after the Lisbon Treaty’. The presentation traced the history of sport in the EU from its initial lack of academic interest, through the various reports, declarations, models and specificities to the present day and the Treaty of Lisbon. In doing so, Simon very much emphasised the evolutionary rather than revolutionary road to Lisbon. What was particularly interesting about the presentation was the thought that the EU was acting not so much as a regulator, but rather as a facilitator / supporter and using sport as a vehicle to engage in wider social missions (e.g. anti-doping, racism, corruption etc). These “softer” words such as “promotion…contribution…taking account of….developing” very much echoed Nick’s earlier talk on incorporating the UEFA licensing model into the Football League. Have all sporting regulators now embraced the softer stick? I thought that was just supposed to be horse-racing?

Any current discussion on Europe would not be complete without mentioning the recent Karen Murphy ruling (see here for a more in-depth analysis), and this was no exception! Interestingly, Simon suggested that fairness and openness were starting to creep into the ECJ rulings as values to be protected and upheld. This might be a trend to watch, particularly given the agenda for good governance and transparency.

 

 

Max Duthie (Partner, Bird & Bird Solicitors) gave a presentation on ‘The Sports Disciplinary Process’. The presentation started with, what seemed to be a recurring theme at the conference, the reluctance of the law to become involved in regulating sport (unless there was a clear departure from the rules / natural justice). Instead, Max pointed to the private, contractual nature of the disciplinary process, with governing bodies imposing their own regulatory codes of behaviour on the athletes under their jurisdiction.

Where I think that this presentation became more controversial was in the issue of jurisdiction, in particular who the sports were purporting to regulate. Max gave a number of examples:

  • Direct contractual links (Paul Stretford)
  • Implied contracts / contracts by conduct (Petr Korda)
  • Voluntary submission to jurisdiction (Dean Richards)

However, where I think the issue becomes greyer is in Sports Codes like the recent Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) Competition Regulations, effective from 1 September 2011:

1.3 By organising, entering, playing tennis in and/ or participating in any way in an LTA Official Competition (including as officials, staff, coaches, representatives, agents, medical staff, relatives and associates of a Player, a Player’s entourage and spectators), a person and/or entity agrees to be bound by and to comply with these Regulations.

It is one thing to bind an athlete to a particular code of conduct, but quite another to hold that they should be responsible for the conduct of all spectators, especially when the player is court-side during a match. On a similar theme, the regulations merely state ‘relatives’ – does this mean all relatives? Or do we need to apply an Alcock-esque ‘close-ties of love and affection test’?

There was also a particularly interesting discussion on whether disciplinary sanctions should be fixed or variable and Max talked about the trade-off between consistency (fixed) and discretion / proportionality (variable), before warning of the cautionary tale of Delon Armitage and the implications that plea-bargaining might have on future tribunals.

See also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/nov/08/delon-armitage-london-irish-england?newsfeed=true  

 

 

Adam Brickell (Head of Legal Compliance, British Horseracing Authority) gave a presentation on ‘The Investigative Processes of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’. The highly technical and diagrammatic nature of the presentation makes it somewhat difficult to summarise in any way that could begin to do justice to it. That said, Adam did make a number of interesting observations about the role of the BHA, and in particular the 5 areas that it is currently addressing:

    • Clear rules and regulations for participants
    • An effective investigative and intelligence capability
    • Robust disciplinary and licensing structures
    • Comprehensive, on-going education programme
    • Partnership approach with the Police, Betting industry and Gambling Commission

Two areas that may be of particular interest to watch in the future, are the concern that a number of betting firms are based offshore and, while they currently assist the BHA through Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), these MoUs are not legally binding should the companies wish to subsequently withdraw their support. The second issue is linked to this and concerns the lack of regulation surrounding spread betting companies.

As an aside, Adam’s talk also continued Max’s theme from earlier about the regulation (or failure to regulate) members of the public not bound by the organisations rules. In particular, Adam gave the example of 6 individuals who placed suspicious bets on a particular horse, but fell outside the jurisdiction of the BHA when they decided not to cooperate with the investigation.

The final presentation belonged to Jonathan Merritt (Senior Lecturer, DMU) who gave us a sneak preview of his new PhD research into ‘Anti-Doping and Equestrianism’. We wish you every success in this venture…

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Taking NIMBYSM to new heights

September 14, 2011

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A recent article in Spiegel Online International takes NIMBYSM (Not in my Back-Yard, Span or Mountain!) literally to new heights.

Lukas Eberle describes how villagers in the Swiss village of Lauterbrunnen are being deluged with BASE jumpers (an extreme variation of parachuting where jumps take place from Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth). Apparently, there were around 15,000 BASE jumps in Lauterbrunnen last year, a figure which sits in stark contrast to a number of jurisdictions around the world that ban or heavily license the sport.

For me, the article  raises two main issues: what degree of autonomy / paternalism is appropriate? and what is the cost of failed jumps (both in human and financial terms)?

 

AUTONOMY / PATERNALISM

When Lord Hoffman made his now seminal judgment in Tomlinson v. Congleton Borough Council [2002] EWCA Civ 309 that:

 “I think it will be extremely rare for an occupier of land to be under a duty to prevent people from taking risks which are inherent in the activities they freely choose to undertake upon the land. If people want to climb mountains, go hang gliding or swim or dive in ponds or lakes, that is their affair. Of course the landowner may for his own reasons wish to prohibit such activities. He may be think that they are a danger or inconvenience to himself or others. Or he may take a paternalist view and prefer people not to undertake risky activities on his land. He is entitled to impose such conditions, as the Council did by prohibiting swimming. But the law does not require him to do so.” [45]

A view echoed later in the case by Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough:

“In truth, the arguments for the claimant have involved an attack upon the liberties of the citizen which should not be countenanced. They attack the liberty of the individual to engage in dangerous, but otherwise harmless, pastimes at his own risk and the liberty of citizens as a whole fully to enjoy the variety and quality of the landscape of this country. The pursuit of an unrestrained culture of blame and compensation has many evil consequences and one is certainly the interference with the liberty of the citizen.” [81]

I am not sure that either judge had in mind the issue of BASE jumpers lobbing themselves off mountains, but that is now the situation facing the authorities in Lauterbrunnen. What is interesting about Lauterbrunnen is the shift from what would seem to be an initial openness and complete autonomy for anyone to jump to a much more structured self-regulation and licensing scheme imposed from within the sport.

The winds of change may however be blowing through the valleys once again if recent articles, websites and BASE discussion forums are to be believed. Indeed, it would now seem that public perception of the acceptability of the sport has changed following repeated injuries and fatalities (three deaths in particular occurred within three weeks of each other, earlier this summer, http://www.321base.eu/). Whether the sport will be able to resist the clamouring for tighter restrictions on the activity will therefore depend on whether the diverse multinational groups of jumpers can be regulated.

As the judgments in Tomlinson showed, there are no right or wrong answers rather a balancing of competing rights. In jurisdictions such as the US and UK, the sport is restricted by criminal trespass laws except for time-limited opportunities to jump from certain objects at particular occasions within the year, in a quasi-controlled and somewhat paternalistic manner; In this context, the libertarian approach taken by Switzerland seems to have led to the country becoming almost a victim of its own success. As access to sites has become easier, propelled by a burgeoning adventure tourism industry, so the sporting purists have been diluted by a wider variety of opportunistic jumpers.

And therein lies the problem, regulating such an extreme activity will always be inherently difficult given that the sport was created to push beyond traditional boundaries and restrictions. With such an underground, anti-establishment history, it is perhaps worth asking the question whether BASE jumping can ever be successfully self-regulated or policed?

To a certain extent, parallels do exist with society’s acceptance with off-piste snowboarding and other extreme activities. Indeed, it is even possible to get BASE jumping lessons! As strange as it sounds, there are BASE jumping schools, some websites even offer tandem BASE jumps so you can vicariously get that extreme adrenaline rush without all that bothersome training and experience (apparently these are becoming popular with stag parties!). I don’t know what is more worrying, the mainstream acceptance of BASE jumping or the thought of how the sport can get even more extreme once it ceases to be cool.

 

THE COST OF FAILED JUMPS

One other thing the article does do particularly well is to poignantly bring home that a fatal jump has consequences not just for the jumper, but also for potentially any innocent members of the public who might have witnessed the accident. It is one thing to extol the virtues of living life to the extreme in a desolate wilderness, or by pitting yourself against the elements, it is something entirely different to traumatise innocent villagers and children with the stark realities of uncontrolled gravity.

Some might say that we should celebrate that a jumper may have died doing something they loved, I worry though that in doing so we blur that line between applauding extremes of human performance and encouraging reckless acts in pursuit of that blaze of glory. BASE Jumping is not an entry-level sport, rather it should remain the prerogative of the experienced athlete, the jumper who respects nature, their own limitations, and the rights of those they share the environment with. The sport should be something more than simply jumping off a summit, it should also involve knowing when not to jump.

I do fear though from the future of the sport in Switzerland when local farmers are quoted as saying:

“The authorities don’t want to ban the jumping because even a dead BASE jumper brings money in,” the farmer says angrily. Many in the area would earn some cash in such a case, “the doctor, mountain rescue” and also the hotel and restaurant industry — “when the relatives travel here,”

Let’s just hope the jumpers become more respectful or the Swiss authorities turn out not to be as a as cynical as Farmer Feuz suspects….

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2011 Public Inquiry into McRae Helicopter Crash

September 14, 2011

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The 2011 public inquiry into the deaths of former rally world champion Colin McRae (and three others) in a 2007 helicopter accident has now been concluded. The Inquiry was instituted by the Lord Advocate under the discretionary provisions of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 and was conducted at Lanark Sheriff Court by Sheriff Nikola Stewart between January and August this year. The full determination can be downloaded here: http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/FAI41.html

More details of the case can be also found in our original blog post about the 2009 Air Accidents Investigation Branch Report (AAIB): https://sportslawnews.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/mccrae-flying-licence-expired/

Essentially, while both the AAIB Report and the Inquiry determination were unable to conclusively determine the exact cause(s) of the crash, both reports conclude that McRae was ultimately at fault.

 

HOW THIS CONCLUSION WAS REACHED

Although a ‘black box’ style flight recorder was not fitted to the helicopter (it is not compulsory to do so for private helicopters), and there were no witnesses to the crash (although multiple witnesses did view aspects of the flight), it is possible to piece together all but the last few seconds of the flight from contemporaneous video filmed by one of the passengers.

Weather conditions were generally favourable with good visibility [9], the flight was only a short (6 minute, 8 nautical miles) return trip from a friend’s farm nearby, and the G-CBHL helicopter in question had been regularly serviced.

This effectively left five probable causes for the accident:

  • Sudden onset technical malfunction (no evidence of this despite a scrupulous investigation by AAIB)
  • Accidental interference by the passenger with the dual-flying controls (cannot be ruled out)
  • A Bird strike (no evidence)
  • Pilot disorientation or misjudgment as a result of low flying at speed in difficult terrain
  • Servo transparency failure of the helicopter leading to or contributing to deviation

 The problem for McRae is that the inquiry held that any / all of the above possibilities could have been avoided or mitigated had McRae given himself a greater margin of error by flying higher or at a lower speed [29].  

Particularly damning for McRae was the finding that: The episodes of extremely low level flying and the excessive manoeuvre parameters, particularly the descent into the [Mouse] valley by Larkhall, all as captured on the video recording, are indicative of an aircraft being flown imprudently, without due regard to the principles of good airmanship, and in such a way that normal safety margins would be reduced.[26]

McRae also repeatedly breached the Rules of the Air Regulations 1996 (1) Rule 5 (2)(b) by unnecessarily flying below the minimum 500 feet clearance requirement on multiple occasions in order to create significant g-loading for the enjoyment of his passengers [24], indeed on one occasion the helicopter deviated from its intended route to manoeuvre over a farm building at only 205ft! [49] 

 

McRAE’S INVALID PILOT LICENCE

The previous findings against McRae’s conduct are further exacerbated by McRae’s failure to hold a valid pilot licence at the time of the accident, in breach of Art.26 of the Air Navigation Order 2005 which required all pilots to hold a:

  • pilot’s licence (McRae’s had expired on 14 February 2005 and had not been renewed)
  • validated with the type of aircraft to be flown (his AS35OBS type rating had expired 16 November 2004)
  • through an annual Licence Proficiency Check (“LPC”) (expired March 21 2007 – six months before the accident)
  • a valid relevant medical certificate (which McRae did possess, [31]).

At the inquiry, evidence showed that non-compliance with this licensing system was not an isolated occasion, as McRae had previously allowed both his type rating and medical certificate to expire on several occasions, despite his continuing to fly the helicopter during these periods of invalidity [33].

While there is no evidence to suggest that he was medically unfit, or incompetent to fly either during these times or on the day of the accident, the Sheriff Stewart found that these lapses indicated a “cavalier attitude to the safety regime imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)” [64] and could invalidate his insurance.

Further safety issues were also highlighted by an out-of-date flight manual, which failed to contain updated guidance on maintenance issues, particularly in relation to servo failures. While there is no evidence to suggest that McRae knew that this advice was out-of-date or that updates were available, the responsibility for ensuring that the manual was still current lay with McRae (as owner and pilot) [89].

 

PARENTAL CONSENT

The final issue in the case, which also has wider implications beyond the immediate families, was the lack of parental consent for Ben Porcelli (6yrs old) to be carried as a passenger in the helicopter. Ben was a friend of Colin’s’ son, Johnny McRae (5yrs old) and the two boys had been playing together on the farm until the helicopter ride.

The key point here is that McRae did not take any steps to ask either of the Porcelli’s for consent for Ben to be a passenger during the unplanned trip. While the inquiry ultimately held that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether Ben would have been granted or refused parental permission to ride in the helicopter, McRae’s failure to consult on such a deviation from the original plan resulted in considerable pain for the Porcelli family, but ultimately no legal culpability [134].

This begs the question, to what extent do parents have a right to be consulted on issues like this, or is parental consent implied by the generic loco parentis during the supervision, and consenting to deviations is merely a social expectation rather than a legal obligation? Although this issue was touched on previously by the Court of Appeal in Harris v. Perry [2008] EWCA Civ 907 (in relation to a failure to consult with the parents of two young boys before allowing them on a bouncy castle), it seems we are still not clear on to whether such a consultation duty exists….

See also: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-14803595  

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New International Sports Law Research Centre Launched

February 2, 2011

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PRESS RELEASE

New research centre casts light on international sports law

A PIONEERING centre for cutting-edge sports law research has been launched in Staffordshire. The Centre for International Sports Law (CISL) has been set up in partnership between Staffordshire University and Thompson Rivers University, in Canada. The aim of the centre is to better understand how sport should be regulated, to conduct new research and to educate the next generation of athletes, academics and practitioners.

Some of the issues the centre has dealt with and continues to look into include:

  • Adventure and extreme sports activities and regulation
  • Technological doping such as the controversial swimsuits used in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
  • Gender discrimination by governing bodies, such as women being disallowed to compete in ski jumping in the Olympics.

Kris Lines, CISL Co-Director at Staffordshire University, said: “It’s a unique international research centre, and we aim to build on its foundations, invite more academics, practitioners and sporting federations, to help us research and develop international sports law.”

Jon Heshka, CISL Co-Director at Thompson Rivers University, added: “I am proud to be partnered with this exciting project and believe that what Staffordshire University and Thompson Rivers University are doing together will help shape the international sports law agenda.”

As well as working internationally, the centre also aims to engage local communities and students through various projects, including an online forum to discuss sports law issues. Kris said: “We are looking at engaging with schools and colleges in order to translate and simplify aspects of sports law. We will make available free open educational resources for any academic provider. From an employment point of view there are also great benefits for students to improve their employability prospects through the Centre.”

The CISL has already gained the support of Squire Saunders, one of the top global sports law firms, who have partnered with Staffordshire University to develop a Masters course in International Sports Law.

Also renowned academic and international sports lawyer, Professor Ian Blackshaw has been appointed to a Visiting Professorship at the University’s Law School and lent his support to the CISL. Kris said: “We are delighted to have Ian Blackshaw on board and to tap into and take advantage of his considerable expertise and extensive practical experience in the Sports Law field for the benefit of the Law School and our students.”

The first CISL event including its official launch will take place in April this year. Further details will be announced on the Centre’s website, www.staffs.ac.uk/cisl

ENDS

 

Notes to editors:

  • For further information on the Centre for International Sports Law visit www.staffs.ac.uk/cisl.
  • Staffordshire University’s sports law discussion forum gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions and views on sports issues. The forum can be found at www.staffs.ac.uk/forums/sportslaw.
  • Professor Ian Blackshaw holds a number of Visiting Professorships in International Sports Law and is Contributing Editor of The International Sports Law Journal. He is also a Member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

For media enquiries please contact the Staffordshire University press office on 01785 353401 or email press@staffs.ac.uk.

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Adventure voyeurs and ambulance chasers

March 24, 2010

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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/season-of-destruction-continues-on-the-bc-slopes/article1507219/

It says something about the Canadian psyche that the media give much greater coverage and the public more attention to three snowmobilers recently dying in avalanches than two people murdered last week at an Edmonton car dealership and the mother and daughter fatally shot in Belville, Ontario.

The incredible interest in snowmobile avalanche fatalities begs the question why do we care so much? Did we show the same sympathy and compassion to the Edmonton and Belville victims? Do we care as much about the seven people who die daily in car accidents in Canada? Have we become so inured and, dare I say it, bored with the ordinariness of such deaths that we’ve become adventure voyeurs and ambulance chasers into the wild?

The matter seems motivated by the cost of search and rescue (which – if the truth be told – is infintismisally small relative to the costs of health care and social programs, not to mention the more than $6 billion spent on the Winter Olympic Games) and the safety of searchers (which is a valid consideration but too must be placed in perspective – no search and rescuer in BC has died looking for a snowmobiler).

The case has yet to be convincingly made by anyone why it is in the public interest to criminalize snowmobilers who trigger an avalanche. Charging them with criminal negligence causing death is problematic because the case would rely on what a reasonable person would have done in the circumstances. Extreme sport is, by definition, not the stuff done by a reasonable person. There is nothing safe about such pursuits; danger is intentionally sought after. That’s the whole point. In this light, the prospect of a conviction seems remote.

Some have suggested that sledders’ defiance and disregard for the safety of spectators merits their punishment by the law. This is not an instance of a victim being hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting. The spectators at the unsanctioned event called the Big Iron Shootout are no less culpable for being there than the sledders highmarking on the slopes of Boulder Mountain. They were, after all, positioned in an open and obvious avalanche trap for the sole purpose of watching the spectacle of highmarking.

Others are too quick to pound the square peg of adventure into the round hole of socially acceptable behaviour and judge the reasonableness of risk-taking actions against such conventions. Those who participate in adventure – whether it be snowmobilers, climbers or backcountry skiers – are (or should be) willing to accept responsibility for their actions.

As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in the mountains, I would not want anyone telling me what I can and cannot do and where it can or cannot be done. It is understandable that snowmobilers feel the same way. I am shocked and saddened that so many in the outdoor community seem to feel that it is appropriate that snowmobilers be regulated.

Many outdoor recreationists are angry that snowmobilers are, in their view, irresponsible and disrespectful of the mountains. Perhaps it is that anger and sense of betrayal that spurs them to lash out and propose shackling the wilderness with regulation.

The climbing instruction ‘Bible’ is aptly entitled Freedom of the Hills. Implicit in its title is that backcountry recreationists have the right to take risks which may unfortunately include decisions that result in their deaths. It is troubling that there are those who paternalistically believe that government has the right to protect – sledders in this instance – those who do not wish their protection. If this happens, I fear that it will represent the thin tip of the wedge representing just the beginning of a process which will inevitably sweep up all users including skiers.

And when heli-skiers are again killed in an avalanche as did the nine who perished in a single event in 1991 (or the two in Wells Gray Provincial Park earlier this week) or climbers die as occur annually, we should not be surprised if the government steps in to clean up our mess because we’ve said it’s OK to intervene. The problem, though, is that perhaps this isn’t as messy or bad as critics paint it.

Maybe this is just the natural consequence of playing in the uncontrollable environment of the mountains where users have different tolerances for risk. This may come across cold hearted but maybe it’s the inevitability of adventure. Just as in Vegas, the house always wins.

It is sad when people die in the mountains. Indeed, it is sad when people die – period. The solution doesn’t lie in B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed’s proposal to pass laws governing how and where people should recreate. Heed underestimates the difficulties that lie ahead – much like misreading an avalanche slope – in considering closing mountains to public access, charging for reckless behavior (don’t most people already consider backcountry skiing and mountain climbing to be inherently dangerous if not outright stupid?) or pressing criminal negligence charges, or in ominously thinking about moving ‘to a different stage’ to do whatever the government can to regulate such recreational activity and restrict access to Crown land. This would sound the death knell for adventure. 

The inconvenient truth is that recreationists have the right to take risks. With echoes of his late father, Justin Trudeau submits that there should be no limits of access to the backcountry for Canadians and that it is not the business of the state to oversee where people play in the wilderness. The answer resides in educating sledders and communicating to them in a meaningful way about the risks they take and hoping they make the right decision.

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2010 F1 rules (if there is a 2010 F1 series that is!)

July 3, 2009

2 Comments

 

As close as I can get to a definitive timeline of the F1 dispute

8/1/09 – FOTA unanimously agree to (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-01-08/fota-press-release) :

  • cost reducing initiatives
  • sign a comprehensive Aerodynamic Test Restrictions Agreement (effective 2009)
  • develop and freeze low cost transmissions for 2010-12 seasons
  • reaffirm their commitment to £5m engine supply from 2010 for independent teams

5/3/09 – FOTA Roadmap for the Future of Formula one (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-03-05/fota-press-release). FOTA publishes its proposals for the sport:

  • 8 Engines per driver per season (at cost of £8m dropping to £5m per team by 2010)
  • Standardised KERS
  • 50% reduction in aerodynamics spend, with restriction on development changes through a season
  • Standardised telemetry and radio systems
  • 50% testing reduction
  • New points system (12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1) to differentiate GP winners
  • Radical new points scoring opportunities (1 championship point for fastest pit-stop)
  • Enhanced engagement with public and TV coverage, including Starting fuel loads, tyre specs and refuelling data made public
  • Findings of Global Audience Survey released
  • History of FOTA attached

20/3/09 – FOTA Press Release (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-03-20/fota-statement) objecting to the World Motor Sport Council decision to change the way the Driver’s championship is awarded.

26/3/09 – FOTA Press Release (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-03-26/press-release) claiming that CVC (the Commercial rights holders for F1) owe agreed sums of money to the teams for 2006-08 championships

 

The following letters were all published on the FIA site and can be downloaded at: http://fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/f1releases/2009/Pages/fia_fota.aspx (bottom of the page, headings 1-4)

28/4/09 – Letter from Luca di Montezemolo (Ferrari / FOTA chair to Max Mosley) agrees in principle to process of cost-cutting started by FIA, but criticises its communication and implementation. In particular:

  • Objected to submission of new 2010 regulations (including the cost cap and difficulties in implementation both technically and for individual teams)
  • Rejected proposals for a two-tier championship
  • Reasserts Ferrari’s rights under the Concorde Agreement

 29/04/09 – Letter from Max Mosley (FIA) in response to Luca

  • Expresses fears that another team will drop out and absence of any legal agreement from any other team to continue. The cost-capped team is therefore ‘an insurance policy to maintain a full field’
  • Wish that any cost-cutting restrictions come in the form of financial measures, rather than the technological restrictions (proposed by FOTA).

 

Interestingly, the FIA approach seems to echo Ross Brawn’s who is quoted by Reuters as stating: One of the difficulties of Formula One is that we are turning into Swiss watchmakers. We are just refining everything to the nth degree instead of being able to make conceptual or innovative changes because the rules are becoming more and more constrictive. To try and contain the costs, we are just closing everything down so much, and I’m not sure that’s what Formula One should be. We can save costs by saying ‘That’s all you are allowed to spend, and have more freedom’. For me, that’s a more exciting Formula One for us and the public and we’ve always supported that concept.” (http://uk.reuters.com/article/motorSportsNews/idUKL815353020090508?feedType=RSS&feedName=motorSportsNews&sp=true)

 

30/4/09 – F1 Cost Cap Q&A and Discussions, Released by FIA (http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/f1releases/2009/Pages/f1_cost_cap.aspx)

  • Confirmation of FIA position of cost-cutting through financial spending and leaving technological improvements comparatively unfettered
  • £40m cost cap
  • Establishment of Costs Commission to monitor compliance and enforce the costs cap

6/5/09 – FOTA meeting in Heathrow to examine FIA regulations (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-05-06/press-release). Constructive meeting, but seeks urgent consultations with FIA

At this point, while both the FIA & FOTA are agreed that cost cutting is necessary, the first sticking point seems to be in agreeing the extent. While the headline figure is £40m, there are a number of important exclusions in relation to driver salaries, fines / penalties, engines and corporate hospitality / marketing which actually makes the figure much closer to the team’s position. This is because driver salaries alone in some teams would have swallowed up much of this figure (Raikkonen and Hamilton are paid at least £10-20m) and while Mosley argued substantial salaries could still be paid, but in the form of dividends rather than wages, this was rejected by the teams.

The second sticking point is the team’s unwillingness to disclose their accounts to the governing body. Although the FIA agreed with Deloitte Accountants that the “vast majority of payments are traceable” and that any benefits in kind “can be valued”, the original plan would be that every team is audited by an FIA Costs Commission. This is quite firmly rejected by the teams.

 

At this point the lawyers really start to get involved and the letters become a lot more formal……..

12/5/09 – Letter from Peter (Ferrari Lawyers) to FIA

  • Asserts that Ferrari will be exercising their right of veto in respect of the introduction of any new Technical or Sporting Regulations (apparently given to them by the FIA in a letter, Jan 17th 2005) (it is perhaps just worth pausing for a moment while the implications of this actually sink in – what other sports teams, in any sport, have any special secret veto powers over what rules they do or do not like? There’s  favouritism and poor governance, and then there’s this!)

13/5/09 – Letter from Mosley to Peter in response

  • Suggests that as the teams have failed to deliver sufficient cost cuts and given the fact that Ferrari cannot stop itself from overspending(!), FIA has no choice but to act to protect the Championship [1]
  • Rejects any suggestion that the cost cap was improperly introduced [2]
  • Confirms existence of the 2005 agreement between FIA and Ferrari, and that it also included FOM. States that loyalty was an essential part of the contractual consideration and by Ferrari leading FOTA to seize control of significant aspects of the regulatory and financial functioning of Championship, and threatening to leave the Championship, it was not complying with these terms [7]
  • Rejects that any Ferrari exists, but if it did do so, the FIA suggest that these would only apply to any Sporting or Technical Regs that require Ferrari to alter its car (which does not apply here), and that this veto should have been applied before any regulations were adopted [10].

Ironically though, Reuters reports that Ferrari was the most cost-efficient Formula One team last season! Although F1 teams increased their overall budgets by an average of about 10%, the report estimates that Ferrari invested 328.2 million euros to win eight races and gain 172 points last season, while Japan’s Toyota and former Honda teams sit at the bottom of the list in terms of cost efficiency. (http://uk.reuters.com/article/motorSportsNews/idUKLO58544420090324?feedType=RSS&feedName=motorSportsNews) The report says nothing about absolute spending however.

 

15/5/09 – Letter from Peter to FIA

  • Doesn’t accept the description of the 2005 agreement and any conditions and suggests the only qualification to the agreement is on safety grounds (inapplicable here) [2]
  • Rejects FIA suggestion that the new regulations do not affect Ferrari [4]

 

20/5/09 – Ferrari v FIA in Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris (no access to the official resource). From Press releases and news reports, seems that the court refused to strike out the 2010 regs, but suggested that Ferrari did have a potential veto.

23/5/09 – Another Letter from Peter to FIA

  • Rejects any suggestion that the 2005 Agreement with FIA means that Ferrari have a binding contractual obligation to compete in 2010 [1]
  • Confirms that under another 2005 Agreement with FOM that Ferrari extends their participation until 2012, subject to a condition precedent that a new Concorde Agreement is signed by FIA, FOM and Ferrari (this hasn’t happened yet) [2]

26/5/09 – Letter from FIA to Peter

  • Unsurprisingly, the FIA rejects all the claims and demands made in the previous Ferrari letters
  • Suggests that internal inconsistency between arguments in letter (that Ferrari did not have any contractual obligation to compete) and argument before French Courts / World Council (that Ferrari received 2005 consideration in return for agreement to compete)
  • By entering into the 2005 agreement, FIA argues that Ferrari accepts the obligation under the Concorde Agreement to participate in the Championship, in addition to any rights it feels it might have (veto)
  • Suggests that Ferrari’s opportunity to object to any regulations or use its veto had passed and no longer existed in relation to the 2010 regs
  • Seeks clarification regarding the status of the 1998 Concorde Agreement
  • Reasserts that Ferrari is contractually bound to enter the F1 Championship up to 2012

 

Then we get the following concessions from the FIA:

 

26/5/09 – Letter from Max to Luca

  • Proposes a cap for 2010, which could be as high as €100m (£86m) [1]
  • Proposes a Cap for 2011 at £40m [2]
  • Scraps proposal of separate rules for cost-capped teams [3]
  • Facilitate know-how transfer between new and old teams [4]
  • One employee per team (eg Chief Designer) in addition to drivers can be outside cap for 2011 [5]
  • Draft of proposed Concorde Agreement sent by the teams is broadly acceptable [6]
  • Cost cap can be renamed as “financial regulation” or any other term [7]

 

Before going back to all the lawyer’s letters……

26/5/09 – Letter from Peter in response to Max’s Letter

  • Ferrari accuses FIA of breach of contract in relation to the adoption of the 2010 F1 Regs in contravention of the 1998 Concorde Agreement
  • Confirms that the French Courts (20/5/09) recognise Ferrari’s veto right
  • Suggests that FIA refusal to recognise this right of veto over the 2010 regs is also a breach of contract
  • Suggest that as the FIA breach of contracts have created significant damages for Ferrari, the only sensible way for Ferrari to mitigate their damages is to immediately withdraw its proposed amendments to the existing F1 regulations, and that should the FIA continue to ‘refuse to honour its contractual obligations, Ferrari will be forced to consider its options, including holding the FIA liable for the losses sustained as a result of the various breaches by the FIA of its contractual obligations.’
  • Ferrari enters a conditional entry to the 2010 Championship

29/5/09 – FOTA Press Release (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-05-29/press-release) confirming that all FOTA teams have entered for 2010 season on basis of:

  • FOTA revision to 2010 regulations apply
  • New Concorde Agreement is signed by all parties before 12th June 2009

8/6/09 – Letter from FIA to Peter

  • Disagrees (again unsurprisingly) with all previous Ferrari points
  • Confirms that the French Court decision ruled that any veto that Ferrari had over 2010 regulations should have been used before this date
  • Rejects any suggestion that the FIA should have used the Concorde Agreement to make rule modifications
  • Rejects any claim that the FIA has breached any contract
  • Reiterates claims that Ferrari has breached agreement with FIA by threatening to withdraw from the Championship (suggests that the instability caused by this gives rise to damage, but that FIA has not decided what action to take although this is under active consideration)

9/6/09 – Letter from Peter to FIA

  • Rejects any contention that Ferrari has lost any rights under the 2005 Agreement
  • Suggests that Ferrari voted against the proposed changes at World Motor Sport Council (April 29, 2009), therefore FIA is still in breach of its contractual undertakings
  • States that as the French courts would not decide the issue, it thus remains fully open on the merits

Not written down by either side, but picked up by the Times F1 Blog (http://timesonline.typepad.com/formula_one/2009/06/the-big-bad-wolf.html) is the suggestion that following a meeting of the teams in Monaco, there is an agreement between the five manufacturers to pay each other £50 million each in compensation if they decide to leave FOTA and join the FIA. (The Times also uses the analogy here of a group of fish bolting themselves together to stop a circling shark ravaging them)

 

10/6/09 – Letter from FIA to Peter

  • Suggested that as Ferrari participated in 15 rule changes after the Concorde Agreement lapsed, any use of the Concorde Agreement is irrelevant (although the last paragraph in particular in phrased in somewhat indelicate language and almost guarantees a response back!!!)

11/6/09 – Letter from Peter to FIA

  • Suggests that FIA was misleading the public by suggesting that the Ferrari entry was unconditional and they therefore reserve their rights for the damages caused by this misleading statement. They also threaten to issue their own Press release.

12/6/09 – Two sentence response from FIA to Peter

  • In a nutshell, Ferrari has obligations under Concorde Agreement 98 to participate until 2012, therefore its not misleading or causes loss to announce this.

12/6/09 – Unsurprising Press Release issued by FOTA In response (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-06-12/press-release ) stating that their 2010 entries are conditional.

15/6/09 – FIA Press Release (http://fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/f1releases/2009/Pages/fota_1.aspx) stating that the FIA and FOTA very close to agreement over technical regs and costs and that there was an element in FOTA who were determined to prevent any agreement being reached.

15/06/09 – FIA Press Release in Response to ACEA Statement (http://fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/f1releases/2009/Pages/acea_1.aspx)  

16/06/09 – FIA Press Release (http://fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/f1releases/2009/Pages/fota_meeting.aspx), detailing meeting of financial experts from FIA & FOTA and suggesting an inevitable financial arms race was inevitable if FOTA proposals were agreed.

16/6/09 – Interesting FIA Press Release on what they feel the main ‘philosophical’ issues are: http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/f1releases/2009/Pages/fia_fota.aspx

17/6/09 – FIA Letter  to teams (the original teams letter hasn’t been published):

  • Governance – all parties should agree to 1998 Concorde Agreement and then negotiate new 2009 Agreement [1]
  • Finance – Suggested that reputable auditor backed up by signature of main company board member is sufficient, and that any suspected investigation over breach would be carried out by a mutually agreed auditor. Any breach would be subject to an agreed financial penalty (to be agreed) [2]
  • Confirmation that two tier regulations will be scrapped, however the letter also states that: “the Cosworth has to be allowed to run without limitation in 2010 (ie the 2008 duty cycle for a 2006 engine), because Cosworth have neither the time nor the resources to retune for 2010. Any engineer will confirm that this will not give the relevant teams any competitive advantage whatsoever” [3]

The response from FOTA was to issue this Press Release 18/6/09 (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-06-18/press-release) stating an intention to commence preparation for a new championship that:

  • Will have transparent governance
  • One set of regulations
  • Encourage more entrants
  • Listen to the wishes of fans (including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide)

19/6/09 – FIA Press Release in Response to FOTA announcement (http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/f1releases/2009/Pages/fota_and_fia.aspx):

  • States that it is not surprised but ‘the actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including wilful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari’s legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law. The FIA will be issuing legal proceedings without delay.’

24/6/09 – ‘Peace in our Time?’ Press Releases from World Motor Sport Council (http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/wmsc/2009/Pages/wmsc_240609.aspx) and FOTA (http://www.teamsassociation.org/press-release/2009-06-25/fota-press-conference-transcript)

  • All teams have committed to the 2010 World championship using 2009 Technical Rules
  • Teams will, within two years, reduce the costs of competing to the level of the early 1990s
  • Teams agree to FIA as the sports governing body and FOM as the commercial rights holder
  • Teams will adhere to an upgraded version of the governance provisions of the 1998 Concorde Agreement
  • Max Mosley will not stand for re-election in October 2009

 

So the upshot is F1 continues as this year, and Max Mosley will not govern the FIA from October. Phew…….

The 2010 Regs: http://argent.fia.com/web/fia-public.nsf/755774E21C7A8B1DC12575B000326F7C/$FILE/1-2010%20F1%20SPORTING%20REGULATIONS%2006-05-2009.pdf

(for an interesting criticism of the current governance (or not) of the sport see also: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/ferrari/5320514/Formula-Ones-warring-factions-are-making-the-sport-a-laughing-stock.html)

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Conflict of interest allegation against Chief F1 Steward

June 23, 2009

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Source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/motorSportsNews/idUKLG55252820090616?feedType=RSS&feedName=motorSportsNews

On a similar governance note, it was reported that the eight members (BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Renault F1, Scuderia Ferrari, Toyota Motorsport, Force India F1 – now suspended, Williams F1 – now suspended) of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), wrote to the FIA on the 13th June complaining of a conflict of interest affecting the sport’s permanent chairman of the stewards (Alan Donnelly) and seeking a separation of his roles.

Donnelly currently oversees the race stewards (who enforce the FIA rules: for example in relation to the Diffuser controversies, or on track incidents). Apparently, it is alleged in the letter that the teams have suggested that Donnelly is also undertaking a political role for the FIA by going around from team to team telling them to abandon the FOTA stance and sign up for 2010.

The FOTA letter suggested that: “This situation raises serious doubts on the autonomy of the judicial functions from the executive functions of the FIA, that need to be separated for a proper governance of the federation. In the FIA’s role as regulator it is imperative that the chairman of the stewards remains totally impartial and we therefore respectfully request that these roles are separated.”

Reuters also reported that Donnelly was not immediately available to comment but an FIA spokesman said the governing body “utterly rejects the suggestion made by FOTA in their recent correspondence”.

If this was true though, it would represent governance issues. Indeed as we saw from the recent political scandal engulfing the UK parliamentary system, it is not just enough to be within the letter of the rules, rather officials should be seen to be beyond reproach. For much the same reasons, this was why UK Sport devolved its doping functions to a new independent organisation.

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Equasy – a dangerous new addiction?

March 26, 2009

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Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7876425.stm ; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1138567/Taking-ecstasy-dangerous-horse-riding-says-Governments-drug-advisor.html; http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/homepage/Ecstasy-row-Professor-says-sorryarticle-687632-details/article.html

 

Read the actual journal article Equasy a harmful addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms’  here: http://jop.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/23/1/3

 

Professor David Nutt (Chairman of the Home Office advisory council on the misuse of drugs (ACMD)) sparked controversy last month after comments in the January edition of the Journal of Psychopharmacology where he suggested that riding is at least as dangerous as taking ecstasy, if not more so!

 

Indeed Professor Nutt argued that taking pleasure from riding horses was a ‘harmful addiction’ and led to ‘Equasy’ (Equine Addiction Syndrome). Furthermore because this syndrome was associated with ‘groups engaging in violent conduct’ and ‘serious adverse events every 350 exposures’, it would appear to be more harmful than ecstasy. Although much of the data to support Professor Nutt’s arguments was taken from a previous medical journal on riding incidents, it seems spurious to link all aspects of riding with hunting violence, or early onset Parkinson’s Disease, as was suggested on p.4 of the article.

 

Speaking later, Professor Nutt defended his comments: “I did not intend to offend anyone who had suffered from friends or family being harmed by either riding or ecstasy. However, people should have access to the facts about the harms of whatever they do so they can make informed decisions about taking those risks.”

 

The ACMD also distanced itself from the article, while Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary) strongly criticized the professor in Parliament for trivializing the dangers of drugs and showing insensitivity to the families of victims.

 

While the main thrust of the article was to highlight that riding and other dangerous sports carry inherent risks (often not fully appreciated by participants or spectators) and that these risks are tolerated by society whereas other statistically less dangerous activities are restricted, ultimately this message was drowned by the all too foreseeable headlines. This is a shame as the identification of Equasy raises some interesting questions. At least, I know though that my desire to throw myself around and somersault off various objects is not irrational, but rather a symptom of a deeper psychological illness! Maybe one day there may even be a cure for me…….

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