Are the British Olympic Association’s new Rule 40 Guidelines still too restrictive?

Published 18 December 2019 By: Peter Crowther, Lisa Hatfield, Jake White

Sprint Hurdler

On 28 October 2019, the British Olympic Association (BOA) published its new official guidelines[1] on Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter (the Guidelines), which govern the promotional activities that can and cannot be undertaken by Olympic athletes and non-Olympic brands and sponsors around the time of the Olympic Games. 

This article briefly examines the background to Rule 40 and why the changes were necessary, before explaining how the changes have been implemented by the BOA, and why, in the authors’ view, the new Guidelines represent little movement forward for Team GB athletes – especially when contrasted with the rights afforded to athletes in comparable countries such as the USA and Germany. Specifically, it considers:

  • What Rule 40 is, how it has been amended, and why the changes were necessary (with reference to the successful competition complaint brought before the Federal Cartel Office in Germany);
  • What the changes to the BOA’s Guidelines mean for Team GB Olympic athletes in respect to:
    • Messages from athletes
    • Messages from sponsors
    • Other changes; and
  • The BOA’s justification for its comparatively restrictive approach

 

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Author

Peter Crowther

Peter Crowther

Partner, Winston & Strawn LLP

Peter serves as managing partner of Winston & Strawn LLP’s London and Brussels offices and is a member of the firm's Executive Committee. Widely recognized as a leading competition and trade lawyer, a significant part of his practice involves working within the firm’s global sports law practice, advising on complaints and investigations relating to athlete welfare, performance development, funding, selection, classification, doping, and athlete agreements.

Peter is currently advising a number of athletes, as well as the BAC in relation to high-profile complaints and investigations relating to athlete welfare, performance development, funding, selection, classification, doping, and athlete agreements. He also advises other sporting bodies in connection with EU competition law aspects

Peter has been recognized in both The Legal 500 and Chambers since 2006, and “is acknowledged for his impressive experience in both disputed and non-contentious matters”.
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Lisa Hatfield

Lisa Hatfield

Associate, Winston & Strawn LLP

As part of her role as a competition and regulatory associate at Winston & Strawn, Lisa advises sports-related companies on compliance with EU and UK competition law particularly in respect of distribution matters.

She also advises sporting bodies in connection with a variety of regulatory issues, including review of guidelines and governance matters and other strategic issues.

Recently, Lisa has been advising on various issues affecting elite-level athletes including high-profile duty of care in sport issues, selection issues, doping allegations, and communications. She has also worked on athlete agreements, grievance policies, and Codes of Conduct across a wide range of sports including para-sports, and doing so, she has helped maintain and form very strong alliances in the industry.
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Jake White

Trainee, Winston & Strawn LLP

Jake is a trainee at Winston & Strawn. Jake has been supporting the Winston team in providing advice on matters of critical importance to athletes in the run up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. He has also worked on matters advising athletes of their individual intellectual property and commercial rights, and on restrictions over athletes’ rights to compete.

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