EU To Rule In Favor Of Speed Skaters Over Int'l Skating Union Ban, Sources Say
Sources said that European Union antitrust regulators are "set to back speed skaters who want to compete in new money-spinning events outside the control of the sport's governing body," according to Foo Yun Chee of REUTERS. The European Commission’s move "could impact other sports and become as important a milestone" as the landmark '95 court ruling involving Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman, which "paved the way for the free movement of players in the EU." The ruling could set a precedent that would make it easier for unofficial and "breakaway" events and competitions to be set up without the approval of a sport's governing body. Sources said that the EC ruling, which is expected by the end of November or early December, is "likely to order" the Int'l Skating Union to amend its system of penalties, which include lifetime bans for competing in unauthorized events. The ISU "found itself in the EU competition enforcer's crosshairs" two years ago after Dutch Olympic speed skaters Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt raised grievances after being "put off competing in lucrative Ice Derby events" run by a South Korean company by threats of a lifetime ban. Both the EU’s competition enforcer and the ISU, which has previously said such an approach "could destroy the Olympic values underpinning sport," declined to comment on the matter (REUTERS, 11/14).