Modahl v British Athletic Federation Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Justice Latham,Lord Justice Mance,Lord Justice Jonathan Parker
Judgment Date12 October 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] EWCA Civ 1447
Docket NumberCase No: A2/2001/0134
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Date12 October 2001
Diane Modahl
British Athletic Federation

[2001] EWCA Civ 1447


Lord Justice Mance

Lord Justice Latham and

Lord Justice Jonathan Parker

Case No: A2/2001/0134





Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Mr A Julius (of Mishcon de Reya for the Appellant)

Charles Flint QC & Andrew Green (instructed by Hamond Suddards Edge for the Respondent)

Lord Justice Latham

The appellant is a well known athlete who has represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games, World Championships and European Championships. She has won many titles at national and international level as an 800 metre runner. The respondent was at the relevant time the governing body for athletics in the United Kingdom, and was affiliated to the International Amateur Athletics Federations (IAAF) and acted as its representative for the United Kingdom.


On the 18 th June 1994, the appellant took part in an athletics meeting under the auspices of the European Athletics Association (EAA) and the IAAF Rules at Lisbon University Stadium in Lisbon Portugal. She was asked to provide a urine specimen under the IAAF doping control procedures. Part of the specimen known as the "A" sample was tested by a laboratory in Lisbon. On the 22 nd July 1994, the laboratory reported that the sample contained testosterone well above any permissible level. The respondent was informed on the 24th August 1994, and in turn informed the appellant. She was at the time preparing to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Canada, but was asked to return. On the 30 th August 1994, the other part of the specimen known as the "B" sample was analysed by the same laboratory and the results were very similar to those found on the analysis of the "A" sample.


In accordance with the rules of the IAAF and the respondent, the appellant was suspended from taking part in competitions by the respondent on the 6 th September 1994 and informed of her right to a hearing before a Disciplinary Committee the members of which were chosen by the independent Drugs Advisory Committee. That hearing took place on the 13 th December 1994 before a five member Disciplinary Committee at which she was legally represented. On the 14 th December 1994, the Committee unanimously found that she had committed a doping offence and was declared ineligible, in accordance with the rules, to compete in the United Kingdom and abroad for four years from the 18 th June 1994. She exercised her right to appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel. This panel of three members presided over by Mr Robert Reid QC, heard argument and evidence over two days, on the 24 th and 25 th July 1995, and unanimously allowed her appeal. Although in the first instance the IAAF announced its intention to refer the matter to the IAAF Arbitration Panel, as was its right under the IAAF rules, it announced on the 25 th March 1996 that it had decided not to proceed with the arbitration.


By writ dated 14 th February 1996, the appellant claimed damages for breach of contract and negligence, although by the statement of claim served on the 29 th February 1996, she restricted her claim to a claim for damages for breach of contract. The basis of her claim was that implied into a contract between her and the respondent were conditions that the respondent's Drugs Advisory Committee would take all reasonable steps to ensure that those who sat as members of the Disciplinary Committee were free from bias, and that the appellant would have a fair and impartial hearing before the Disciplinary Committee. The basis of the claim was that Sir Arthur Gold, chairman of the Drugs Advisory Committee, was biased against the appellant in that he regarded or presumed her to be guilty, and that this bias was exemplified by his choice of members for the Disciplinary Committee which included Dr Martyn Lucking, who was alleged to have been similarly biased, and a Mr Albert Guy, a senior official or member of the Technical Committee of the IAAF, which was similarly biased. At trial, the judge, Douglas Brown J, held that there was no contract between the appellant and the respondent, that there was no actual or apparent bias on the part of Sir Arthur Gold, Dr Lucking, or Mr Guy, that even if there was a contract, the only implied condition was that the disciplinary procedures would as a whole be fair, and that the hearing before the Independent Appeal Panel was fair, and cured any unfairness that there might otherwise have been. He further held that in any event even if there had been bias on the part of those named, the decision of the Disciplinary Committee was not affected by that bias, so that no damage was thereby caused.


To understand the issues it is necessary to set out the facts in more detail. The structure of the sport in Great Britain is based on clubs of whom individual athletes become members. Clubs are in turn affiliated to a regional or national association to which they pay an affiliation fee. They were also affiliated at the time to the respondent which had taken over responsibility for athletics in Great Britain from the British Amateur Athletics Board (BAAB) in 1991. The respondent was in turn a member of the IAAF. No athlete was eligible to compete in any event sanctioned by the respondent or its affiliated associations if he or she was not a member of an affiliated club. Further, no athlete was eligible to compete in any competition sanctioned by the IAAF if he or she was not eligible to compete in a competition sanctioned by the respondent.


The relevant rules in relation to doping were set out in the IAAF Handbook for 1994 – 1995 (the IAAF Rules) and in the respondent's Rules for Competition 1994 – 1995 (the BAF Rules).


The IAAF Rules provide as follows:

"Rule 55


1. Doping is strictly forbidden and is an offence under IAAF Rules.

2. The offence of doping take place when either

(i) A prohibited substance is found to be present within an athletes body tissue or fluids ….

4. It is an athletes duty to ensure that no substance enters his body tissues or fluids which is prohibited under these rules. Athletes are warned that they are responsible for all or any substance detected in samples given by them…

Rule 59

Disciplinary Procedures for Doping Offences

1. Where a doping offence has taken place, disciplinary proceedings will take place in three stages:

(i) Suspension.

(ii) Hearing.

(iii) Ineligibility.

2. An athlete shall be suspended from the time the Doping Commission in the case of the IAAF, or its equivalent body in the case of a member reports that there is evidence that a doping offence has taken place.

3. Every athlete will have the right to a hearing before the relevant tribunal of his National Federation, before any decision on eligibility is reached ……

4. If an athlete is found to have committed a doping offence, and this is confirmed after a hearing …. He shall be declared ineligible …. His ineligibility shall begin from the date on which the sample was provided.

5. Where a hearing takes place the IAAF or the member (as the case may be) shall have the burden of proving, beyond reasonable doubt, that a doping offence has been committed.

Rule 60


1. For the purpose of these rules the following shall be regarded as "doping offences" see also Rule 55.(2. (i)

The finding in an athletes body tissues or fluids of prohibited substance …

2. If an athlete commits a doping offence, he will be ineligible for the following periods:

(a)An offence under Rule 61(i)…

(i) First offence a minimum of four years from the date of the provision of the sample …."


The BAF rules essentially mirrored the rules of the IAAF. The procedures for dealing with alleged breaches of the rules were set out in Appendix B. The relevant provisions were:

"(B7) Following suspension for an offence under Rule 24 there will be a disciplinary hearing before the Disciplinary Committee at a date to be determined by the Chairman of the Drug Advisory Committee, after consultation with the parties, and in the absence of an agreement, being a date not less than 21 days from the Notice of the hearing being given to the athlete. The Disciplinary Committee shall consist of members of Federation Drug Advisory Committee or its nominees. At the hearing the athlete be entitled to be represented and will have the opportunity to present his/her case. The Disciplinary Committee may exercise all the disciplinary powers given by Rule 24. (B8. After the disciplinary hearing before the Disciplinary Committee and any declaration of ineligibility, the athlete or the IAAF will have the right of appeal within 21 days. Any appeal will be made to an Independent Appeal Panel consisting of one representative of the athletes Member Association, one representative from the Federation and one person nominated by the Federation who may be a Barrister or Solicitor."


Further, it is a condition of membership of the IAAF that a national body includes within its constitution provisions entitling the IAAF to conduct out of competition testing on athletes. No athlete is entitled to enter his or her national championships, nor is he or she permitted to take part in International events unless he or she agrees to be subject to out of competition testing. The BAF Rules contain the necessary provisions to give effect to this stipulation. The mechanism by which the respondent controlled entry into international meetings was by Rule 6 (4)(a) which precluded any member of a club under the jurisdiction of the respondent from competing outside the United Kingdom without the...

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