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International Sports Law Blog

Nike Athletes Caught In Doping Agency Tiff

Alberto Salazar won the New York City Marathon three consecutive times, starting in 1980. He went on to an acclaimed coaching career that includes Olympic and world champion distance runners like Mo Farah. Following a lengthy fight with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), he was suspended last month for four years (he has subsequently appealed that suspension, and the appeal is pending before the Court of Arbitration for Sport). USADA did not, however, punish any of his athletes, and the arbitration decision concluded that there was no evidence that any of his athletes at the Nike Oregon Project had received any banned substances from Salazar (or Nike).

Despite the arbitrator’s findings, the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) recently announced that it would investigate athletes who trained as part of the Nike Oregon Project. Even USADA seemed surprised by the WADA announcement.

Kaepernick workout comes with more drama

There was more finger-pointing on November 16 between quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the NFL. The black-balled quarterback has not taken a snap since 2017 and has since settled his multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the NFL. As a symbol that the two sides buried the hatchet, the NFL with help from rapper Jay-Z announced on November 12 that it organized an open workout for Kaepernick so professional teams could get a look at the quarterback.

Many procedures out of the ordinary

NFL players dispute teams' medical treatment

Being tough and dealing with pain are cornerstones of playing football at all levels. Nevertheless, it can become a matter of differing opinions on the correct course of treatment or if treatment is needed for an injury.

Three NFL players have gone public about disputes they have with their team about medical care – one team advised against shoulder surgery, another did not recognize a rare form of cancer and another claimed that concussion symptoms had stopped. These players have all been punished for raising complaints, either by terminating a contract or fining the player unwilling to follow orders.

Kellen Winslow II Defense Cites CTE

Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II was recently back in court to face a variety of charges again involving sexual assault. He pleaded guilty to raping a 17-year-old girl in 2003 when she was passed out. He also pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery charges involving a 54-year-old homeless woman he picked up hitchhiking in 2018 and assaulting another homeless woman that same year. Last June, a jury convicted him of exposing himself to a female neighbor and committing a lewd act against a woman in a local gym. 

According to a plea agreement, Winslow now faces a minimum of 12 years in prison and could serve as many as 18 years. It is a long fall for Winslow, a 36-year-old father of two who married his high school sweetheart. He played in the NFL from 2004 to 2013, earning $40 million during his career. 

Patrick Day's death is the 4th in professional boxing this year

Boxing has been called "the sweet science," but the untrained eye likely sees two muscular athletes moving around a ring punching each other, ideally trying to knock the opponent out with a blow to the face. There is, of course, endless hours of training as well as refining the boxer's technique, which includes strategy and footwork. Nevertheless, it is a deadly sport.

A head injury in the ring

Gronk recently reveals the extent of head injuries

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski surprised many when he announced his retirement in March of 2019. Hot off a Superbowl victory and just 29 years old, the all-pro said at the time that he had enough, adding that football was no longer fun for him. He has since gone on to endorse CBDMedico for treatment of the chronic pain issues he felt on a day-to-day basis.

Now Gronkowski announced that he also suffered severe head injuries from playing football. In an interview with NBC News, he stated:

NCAA reverses course on athletes' compensation

The NCAA's governing board made a surprising but necessary reversal in allowing financial compensation to college athletes. The unanimous vote by the organization's board of governors will enable student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.

In a statement released, NCAA Board Chair Michael Drake acknowledged that it needed to make these changes and stay flexible for future ones:

Tom Brady Denied Trademark

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is one of the most prominent sports figures of his time, so news items about him are just as likely to show up on celebrity websites as they are on the sports pages. Last June, he caused an uproar when he applied for a trademark of “Tom Terrific” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Despite his success on the field, the USPTO denied Brady's application. The agency did this on the grounds that made many New York Mets fans happy – legendary pitcher Tom Seaver had been called Tom Terrific for decades. Even though Seaver had never applied for a trademark on the phrase, it did not matter.

Professional surfing awards equal pay

The surf community has always operated by its own set of rules. This, of course, carried over into the world of professional surfing. Nevertheless, the World Surf League (WSL) followed many other sports’ example by paying the male competitors more prize money than the female ones. At WSL competitions in Australia earlier this year, for example, the men were paid $100,000 while the women were paid $65,000.

To balance the pay and bolster interest in women’s competition, the WSL will announce a new pay scale when it unveils the schedule of the upcoming season. While tennis has equal prize money at its major tournaments, WSL is the first U.S.-based global sports league to equalize its prize structure for all WSL-organized events.

Sprinter wants an apology

Christian Coleman cemented his title as the world’s fastest active sprinter when he became world champion last month in Doha. His 100-meter time was 9.76 seconds, which was a personal best and sixth fastest in history.

Nevertheless, there has been a cloud of doubt hanging over the U.S. sprinter -- Coleman was charged with three “whereabouts failures” in 12 months, which if proven, would have resulted in a minimum one-year suspension from competition, and could potentially have put him out of contention for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

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