Monday, November 26, 2018
The Pechstein Case: International Sports Arbitration Versus Competition Law. How the German Federal Supreme Court Set Standards for Arbitration
Rupprecht Podszun, Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf - Faculty of Law; Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition addresses The Pechstein Case: International Sports Arbitration Versus Competition Law. How the German Federal Supreme Court Set Standards for Arbitration.
ABSTRACT: The German Federal Supreme Court in 2016 decided a case brought by athlete Claudia Pechstein against the International Skating Union on a doping matter. The question at issue was whether the arbitration clause in the athlete’s contract for participating in the World Championships, entered into with the only ice skating association, was actually amounting to an illegal abuse of dominance under competition law. A lower court had – sensationally – held that the underlying arbitration clause was a violation of competition law. The Federal Supreme Court, however, upheld the doping ban handed down by the sports institutions. Yet, in this interesting opinion the Federal Supreme Court sets standards for international arbitration.
This paper is a comment on this decision. In the first part of the paper, I set out what was at stake in the Pechstein case. In part II, I turn to the results for individual athletes vis-à-vis their sports associations. In part III, I try to define the standards set by the Court for arbitration. In part IV, I look at the antitrust angle of the case. In the concluding part (V), I sketch the importance of the decision for international arbitration.