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The law is increasingly impacting on sport, with landmark cases being heard in the High Court and European Court of Justice in areas like drugs and employment law. The involvement of lawyers has increased as the professionalism and importantly the money has increased. But when sport ends up in the ordinary courts the cases can be slow and in some cases financially crippling. Governing bodies are often keen to stay out of court, and sport has instituted its own courts, such as the Court for Arbitration for Sport. Many sporting governing bodies write into their constitutions that the CAS be the first port of call in dispute resolution.
The CAS will play a key role at the Olympics, but dispute resolution starts long before the games themselves. Britain's rhythm gymnastics team recently appealed against a decision not to select them for the Olympics and sprinter Dwain Chambers is awaiting a decision by CAS on whether the British Olympic Association rules that currently bar him from competing in an Olympic Games break the international rules on drug bans.
But the move away from the normal courts is not driven by cost alone. There is a debate about how far the law courts should be involved in decisions which impact on sport. The European Union has recognised the special nature of sport, and this has been welcomed by sporting governing bodies. But are we seeing the build up of a body of sports law, which might conflict with law in other areas? How far should sport be special in the eyes of the law? And where should the boundary lie between areas which are decided by traditional courts, sports courts or left up to the sport governing bodies themselves? Joshua Rozenberg talks to those involved with sport and the law.
Producer: Wesley Stephenson.