- Sports and sports-related disputes are a lightning rod for public debate.
- The recent doping scandals involving PRC Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang and, closer to home, the Essendon AFL Club highlighted the shortcomings of international and national federations, perceived to be lacking either the authority or independence to address anti-doping and other disputes in-house.
- The National Sports Tribunal has been established to provide the Australian sporting community with an independent specialist tribunal for the fair hearing and resolution of sporting disputes.
The National Sports Tribunal (‘NST’) has been established pursuant to National Sports Tribunal Act 2019 (‘NSTA’) and commenced operations on 19 March 2020. It was created with the aim of providing for ‘an effective, efficient, independent, transparent and specialist tribunal for the fair hearing and resolution of sporting disputes’ (s 3(1)) for the Australian sporting community. It provides for an opt-in system of resolution of certain sports and sports-related disputes by arbitration, mediation, conciliation and case appraisal. The CEO of the NST is Mr John Boultbee AM, an experienced sports administrator.
The NST consists of an Anti-Doping Division, a General Division and an Appeals Division (s 11).
The NST’s jurisdiction in relation to anti-doping matters gives effect to the International Convention Against Doping in Sport.
The NST’s jurisdiction in relation to matters other than anti-doping applies in relation to a dispute:
- where the sporting body concerned is a constitutional corporation, or a body corporate that is incorporated in a Territory;
- involving matters relating to a sporting event at which Australia is to be, is or was represented as a nation; and
- involving matters that occur beyond the limits of the States and Territories (see ss 5, 5(2) and 6(2) of the NSTA).