Contract Basics for Athletes

By Robyn Jeffries (Case Manager), Brayden Mulhern (Caseworker) & Daniel Torch (Caseworker)

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at [email protected]

Contracts are more than just pieces of paper; they are binding agreements that dictate terms of engagement between parties. In the sports world, contracts can govern relationships between athletes, associations, sponsors, and other involved parties. Understanding contract basics is paramount for athletes to protect their rights and interests. Below are some key points every athlete should know.

Contracts in sports are legally binding agreements. Once signed, the parties involved must adhere to the terms outlined in the agreement.

Athletes must pay close attention to the content of a contract before signing. Contracts should clearly outline each party’s rights, obligations, and responsibilities, leaving little room for ambiguity or misinterpretation.

In certain circumstances, a contract can be partially or entirely invalidated. This can occur due to unclear provisions or if the contract is against public policy. However, it is critical for athletes to raise concerns regarding a contract before signing it. Once executed, it is challenging for an athlete to contest its terms. Courts have held that concerns should be addressed before the contract is finalized. In cases where the athlete has little bargaining power, athletes should make formally known any reservations about certain terms of the contract. Without this, the athlete is in no position to complain later on.

Understanding these contract basics empowers athletes to protect their rights and interests in the competitive world of sports. Whether negotiating sponsorship deals or participation agreements, clarity and vigilance are key to ensuring mutually beneficial agreements.

What is a contract, and what types might an athlete encounter

A contract is a legally binding agreement. A contract represents the meeting of the minds of the parties. Contracts in sports are subject to the same principles of contract formation as any other form of employment agreement. There are a multitude of contracts that an athlete may encounter throughout their career. Here are some of the most common ones:

Player Contracts: These are agreements between athletes and their teams or clubs, outlining the terms of the athlete’s employment or participation with the team. Player contracts typically specify the athlete’s salary, bonuses, duties, rights, and obligations, including provisions related to performance expectations, conduct, and duration.

Endorsement Contracts: Professional athletes often enter into endorsement contracts with companies or brands to promote their products or services. These contracts may involve the athlete appearing in advertisements, endorsing products, making public appearances, or participating in marketing campaigns in exchange for compensation or other benefits.

Guaranteed Contracts: In certain sports, such as professional basketball and American football, athletes may negotiate guaranteed contracts that ensure they receive their full salary regardless of injury, performance, or other factors. Guaranteed contracts provide financial security and stability for athletes but may come with higher salary caps or other limitations for teams.

Performance Bonuses: Some athlete contracts include performance bonuses based on individual or team achievements, such as reaching specific statistical milestones, winning championships, or receiving awards and honours. Performance bonuses incentivize athletes to excel and achieve success on the field or court.

Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs): Professional sports leagues often operate under CBAs negotiated between players’ unions and league management. These agreements establish rules and guidelines for player contracts, salary caps, revenue sharing, free agency, and other aspects of player-employer relations within the league.

Insurance Contracts: Athletes may purchase insurance policies to protect against career-ending injuries or income loss due to disability. These insurance contracts provide financial compensation in the event of covered injuries or circumstances that prevent the athlete from playing or earning income from their sport.

These are just a few examples of the types of contracts that professional athletes may encounter. These contracts’ specific terms and conditions can vary widely based on the athlete’s sport, marketability, bargaining power, and other factors.

What are the essential ingredients of a contract?

Six elements are necessary for a binding and enforceable contract in Canada:

Capacity: In Canada, the legal age to enter a contract varies by province or territory, but you must typically be at least 18 years old. The person must also be of a sound mind while understanding all elements of a contract and entering into it. Generally, individuals under the age of majority, typically 18, may still enter into contracts in certain circumstances. However, contracts involving minors are subject to specific rules and limitations.

Offer: This is the manifestation of willingness to enter into a bargain with another party. It is usually the first step toward establishing a contract.

Acceptance: Acceptance is an unconditional willingness to be bound by request. Acceptance mirrors the conditions of the offer. If any variation is communicated from the party to which the offer was earlier made, the communication would not be an acceptance but a counteroffer. In the counteroffer case, the party who initially made the offer is to accept or decline the counteroffer.

Consideration: There can be no contract without consideration. Consideration is something of value given in exchange for a promise. A contract would clearly state what is being sought and for what consideration. In a typical athletic contract, the consideration flowing from the offeror of the contract would be a salary or other payments, while the consideration flowing from the athlete would be their athletic performance.

Mutual Agreement: For a contract to be valid and legally enforceable, the parties to the Contract must agree on the same terms in the same sense. If there is any confusion concerning any of the terms, articles, or considerations, where the parties to the Contract interpret it for a different purpose, it could invalidate the Contract.

Legality: A contract is automatically invalid or non-enforceable if any aspect of the contract is not legal. The Contract should be for a legal objective, procured via legal means, and executed legally. Any illegality in the object, procurement, or execution might make the Contract void, which could not be legally enforced.

Most sports contracts are express contracts. An express contract is a contract in which the agreement of the parties is evidenced by their words, whether spoken or written. There are virtually no more implied contracts in the sports industry. An implied contract is a contract in which the agreement is not evidenced by written or spoken words but by the acts and conduct of the parties. Regardless of whether a contract is implied or explicit, if one of these six essential elements is missing from a given contract, then either party may have legal grounds for repudiating the contract or arguing that a valid contract had never been formed in the first place.

Besides missing one of these six essential elements, there are other grounds for a contract to be deemed invalid or non-enforceable. While there are many grounds for this happening, some of the most common ones are listed below:

Misrepresentations: When one party to the contract, typically the offeror, makes specific intentional misrepresentations about facts or terms of the contract that are essential to the contract.

Mistakes: These are unintentional but can still invalidate a contract. An example would be an athlete’s contract stating that the athlete is signing up to play for a team in British Columbia when in reality they were meant to play for a team in Manitoba.

Undue Influence: When a party to the contract is pressured by either the other party(s) to the contract or by other outside sources, and the only reason they signed the contract was due to the pressure imposed on them, the contract will be invalidated.

Duress: Similar to Undue Influence, if a party to the contract only signs because someone else is making them feel as though they have no choice, and otherwise, consequences will follow, they have signed under duress, and the contract will be invalidated. Signing under duress typically means that someone has threatened violence against you or someone important to you or severe intimidation was used against you. However, there are other forms where someone can claim they signed a contract only under duress.

A Frustrating Event: When some external event occurs that is through no fault of either party to the contract, the contract may be invalidated. An example of a frustrating event could be what we saw in Canada with the COVID-19 pandemic, where many people could not perform their contractual obligations due to a multiplicity of factors brought on by the virus.

What are an athlete's rights as the offeree?

When an athlete is offered a contract, it is imperative for them to understand the nature of their rights and obligations as the offeree.

Request for more information or clarification: The athlete may request any details or clarifications required to satisfy the “mutual agreement” requirement. All parties to a contract must understand its terms and conditions before acceptance, as the contract then becomes legally binding.

Counteroffer: If the athlete disagrees with a term in the contract and wishes to have it clarified or altered, they may present the offeror with a counteroffer. This may also take place in the form of negotiations. A counteroffer will nullify the previous offer and transfers the right of acceptance to the initial offeror, who may then accept or reject the counteroffer or issue another counteroffer to the athlete.

Acceptance: The athlete may accept the offer. Accepting the offer renders the contract legally binding. Thus, acceptance should be deferred until the athlete understands and agrees to all terms of the contract.

Rejection: It is important for an athlete to understand that, when offered a contract, they retain the right to reject the offer entirely or in part.

Things for an athlete to be aware of:

Expiry of the offer: It is important to be aware of any timelines attached to the offer.

Revocation before acceptance: The offeror retains the right to revoke an offer at any point prior to the athlete’s acceptance.

Irrevocability after acceptance: An athlete must remember that once an offer is accepted, it becomes a legally binding contract, and they may become liable for breach of contract for failure to adhere to its terms.

Key Takeaways

  • Be sure to identify what type of contract you are privy to, whether it be a playing agreement, a sponsorship contract, insurance contract, or broader CBA.
  • Keep in mind the elements of a contract, which include offer, acceptance, consideration, capacity, and legality. If any of these elements are missing, there is NO contract/legally binding obligation for either party.
  • Always be aware of your offeree rights to request more information, counteroffer, and accept or reject. Reflecting on contractual defects that may occur – including misrepresentations, mistakes, undue influence, and duress – may aid in seeking a potential remedy.

If you are unsure whether to sign a contract, seek independent legal advice or reach out to Sport Solution at [email protected].


AthletesCAN, “The Future of Athlete Agreements in Canada” (December 2021) online: <athletescan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/the_future_of_athlete_agreements_in_canada_final_eng_1.pdf>.

Rachel Islam & James Sifakis, “The Future of Athlete Agreements in Canada (Phase II):
Redefining the Relationship” (October 2016) online: <crdsc-sdrcc.ca/eng/documents/The%20Future%20of%20Athlete%20Agreements%20in%20Canada%20(Phase%20II).pdf>.

Sport Law, “A New View of Athlete Agreements” (May 7, 2006) online: < sportlaw.ca/a-new-view-of-athlete-agreements/>.

Sport Law, “Some Basics on Contracts” (September 5, 1996) online: <sportlaw.ca/some-basics-on-contracts/>.

Waddams et al., Cases and Materials on Contracts, 6th ed (Toronto: Emond, 2018).

Yellowbrick, “Understanding Sports Contracts: Key Factors and Negotiation Tips” (November 3, 2023) online: <yellowbrick.co/blog/sports/understanding-sports-contracts-key-factors-and-negotiation-tips/>.

The Challenges of Competition Manipulation that Athletes face due to Sports Gambling and How to Address this Problem

By Nic Spagnuolo (Case Manager), Eli Hutchison (Caseworker)

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at [email protected]

Throughout Canada, there has been a dramatic shift over the years with respect to sports gambling. The Senate passed Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, on June 22, 2021, which gave provinces the ability to regulate single-event sports betting. 1 Ontario then passed laws on April 4th, 2022, to allow sportsbooks to provide single-event sports gambling services within the province.2Single-game sports betting has been very profitable for the Ontario economy. Within the first year of legalized single-event betting, overall revenue from the province’s regulated sector was over $1.4 billion.3In 2023, it was estimated that the legal sports betting market in Ontario contributed $1.56 billion to Ontario’s GDP, and is expected to contribute up to $2.9 billion to Ontario’s GDP in 2024.4.Although sports gambling has been widely accepted, with 1.6 million active players, 45 gaming operators and 76 facilities offering sports gambling services in 2023 in Ontario alone 5, an underreported aspect of the acceptance of sports gambling has been the additional problems that Canadian athletes are facing as a result of the increasing prevalence of sports gambling in the country.

Sports Gambling and Competition Manipulation

A problem that sports gambling poses for Canadian athletes is the temptation to engage in competition manipulation. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that Canada is behind other countries in how to deal with and protect athletes from engaging in competition manipulation. 6 Additionally, athletes who are under-funded and under-resourced are more susceptible to engaging in competition manipulation. 7

Competition manipulation has been an increasing concern globally. For example, Sportradar Integrity Services, a global sports technology company that monitors betting behaviour 8, observed an increase in the number of suspicious matches by 34% in 2022 compared to 2021.9 In total, there were 1,212 suspicious matches detected in 92 countries on five continents and across 12 different sports. 10Suspicious matches are those with unusual betting activity and can be indicative of competition manipulation. 11 As sports betting becomes more prevalent throughout the country, athletes in Canadian sports, especially those who are under-compensated and under-funded, can be at an increased risk of engaging in competition manipulation.

Recommendations to Combat Competition Manipulation: 2023 Symposium on Competition Manipulation and Gambling in Sport

In May 2023, the McLaren Global Sport Solutions Inc. (MGSS) and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) co-hosted the second Canadian Symposium on Competition Manipulation and Gambling in Sport. 12 The symposium was attended by key stakeholders of Canadian sport including athletes, national sport organizations (NSOs), government bodies, professional sport leagues, sport integrity units and law enforcement agencies.13Following the symposium, the MGSS and CCES published the takeaways of the event, as well as five key recommendations for how to handle competition manipulation and gambling in Canadian sport. 14

The first recommendation was to develop a national policy to be adopted by all national and multi-sport organizations that would be supervised by an independent body. 15 This recommendation is currently being carried out by the CCES and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC). 16The COC and the CCES have partnered to develop a harmonized policy for the Canadian sport community by using the International Olympic Committee Code to draft a national policy in conjunction with NSOs, multi-sport organizations and athletes across Canada.17Once published, the policy will be administered by an independent organization and will outline the prohibited behaviours and consequences for failure to follow the policy. 18The policy will also outline the mandatory education that athletes must undertake, as well as how to monitor suspicious betting activity. 19

The second recommendation was to develop educational programming for athletes, coaches and other participants involved in Canadian sport to reduce the harms of competition manipulation. 20 With the advent of the legalization of sports gambling, athletes, specifically younger athletes who may not be aware of competition manipulation policies, are at a heightened risk of being taken advantage of to engage in competition manipulation. 21As such, educating athletes is necessary to protect them from the dangers of engaging in competition manipulation. 22

The third recommendation was to create a national working group to advise on implementing policies against competition manipulation throughout Canada.23The purpose of the working group would be to ensure that regulations are consistent across Canada and that communication is easier among all stakeholders involved in Canadian sport and sports gambling. 24

The fourth recommendation was to develop a revenue-sharing system from the proceeds of sports gambling to ensure that money is being put into Canadian sport to help combat competition manipulation. 25 Although provinces are benefiting from the additional revenue from sports gambling through taxation, it is unclear how or if any money is flowing back into sport or being used to benefit sport organizations and athletes. 26 As such, a revenue-sharing system would allow for sports organizations and athletes to benefit financially to reduce the likelihood of engaging in competition manipulation, as well as financially supporting initiatives designed to prevent competition manipulation. 27

The final recommendation was to encourage the Government of Canada to become a party to the Macolin Convention, which is the only rule of international law on match fixing in sport, in order to prevent, detect and punish match fixing. 28

The Future of Sports Gambling and the Effects on Canadian Athletes

Since the time in which single-event sports gambling became legal in Canada, there has yet to be a competition manipulation scandal in Canadian sport through the Canadian gambling market. However, as outlined at the 2023 Symposium on Competition Manipulation and Gambling in Sport, stakeholders should be implementing measures to ensure that Canadian sport has the proper infrastructure in place to prevent, deter and handle any potential competition manipulation scandals in the upcoming years.

Key Takeaways

  • While legalized sports gambling has increased provincial revenue in Ontario, it has also increased the risk of athletes in Canadian sport being susceptible to engaging in competition manipulation.
  • Following the 2023 Symposium on Competition Manipulation and Gambling in Sport, the McLaren Global Sport Solutions Inc. and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport developed five recommendations for how to address the threat of competition manipulation in Canadian sport.
  • Although there has yet to be a competition manipulation scandal in Canadian sport through the legalized Canadian gambling market, stakeholders should be implementing the proper measures to prevent, deter and handle any potential competition manipulation scandals going forward.


Sport in Canada: The Continuing Journey to Safe Sport for Female Athletes

By: Tucker Seabrook (Case Manager), Alexandra Marshall (Caseworker) and Jonah Wilson (Caseworker)

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at [email protected]

Safe Sport in Canada

The Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) is the core set of rules adopted by all sport organizations in Canada that receive funding from the federal government. Published by the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC), these rules aim to ensure that maltreatment will not threaten the health and safety of participants in Canadian sport by advancing a culture that delivers quality, inclusive, accessible, welcoming and safe sport experiences. The UCCMS addresses a number of issues related to safe sport in Canada including:

  • Common principles and a commitment to advance a respectful sport culture;
  • Standard definitions of various forms of maltreatment, such as the grooming, neglect, and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of individuals;
  • Prohibited behaviors such as retaliation, failure to report maltreatment, intentionally submitting false allegations, etc.; and
  • Framework for determining appropriate sanctions for parties who perform prohibited behaviours.1

The SDRCCs safe sport framework also includes Abuse-Free Sport, whose primary goal is to prevent abuse in sport. Abuse-Free Sport provides access to a range of bilingual resources to everybody, regardless of the sport, level, or role of an individual. These resources include a helpline, education programs, and mental health services.

The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) operates as an independent division of the SDRCC, to administer the UCCMS in fair and equitable manners through Abuse-Free Sport.2 Created by the Physical Activity and Sports Act in 20033 and mandated by the Government of Canada on July 6, 2021,4 the OSIC advances the UCCMS by:

  1. Overseeing the complaint intake process;
  2. Conducting preliminary assessments and commissioning independent investigations;
  3. Maintaining a database of imposed sanctions; and
  4. Monitoring compliance by sporting organizations.

OSIC and the SDRCC have not yet published a new version of the UCCMS after version 6.0, which was only effective up until Nov. 30, 2022. Additionally, due to OSIC being federally mandated, it only serves national-level athletes, through their National Sport Organizations (NSOs). Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs) have no requirement to adopt the UCCMS and the SDRCC’s Abuse-Free Sport framework.5

Safe Sport and Female Athletes

At all levels of sport, there is a clear need for safe sport protocol for female-presenting athletes. Recently, in what is surely a step forward for safe sport and a win for athletes across the country, Canadian gymnastic coach Elvira Saadi was permanently banned from working with athletes.6 This remedy was requested by the complainants. Female athletes know how to increase safety in their sports: just ask them. 

 At the highest level, elite athletes appeared in front of the House of Commons on April 24, 2023 to demand the government take action.7 The athletes included Olympians from Canadian boxing, soccer and fencing, who asked for a public inquiry into Canadian sport culture. Myriam Da Silva Rondeau, an Olympic boxer, cites legal costs, therapy bills and financial stresses as a huge issue athletes face when they suffer maltreatment in sport. There is no debate: more support is needed for athletes. 

Implementing safe sport protocols that protect female athletes is as easy as asking them what they need. From minor changes like conscientious scheduling so female athletes are not sharing training areas with male athletes or being left alone with coaches, to larger scale policies such as anti-retribution safeguards and funding for complainant support – there is so much more that could be done.

Equity, Not Erasure

There is no question that abuse in sport can – and does – happen to athletes of any gender, not just women. That being said, the majority of maltreatment is being reported by women.8  Interestingly, the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner’s Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) makes no mention of the vulnerability of female athletes, or gender at all, except in the excerpt below: 

All Participants recognize that Maltreatment can occur regardless of race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, and other characteristics. Moreover, it is recognized that those from marginalized groups have increased vulnerability to experiences of Maltreatment.9

There needs to be recognition that female athletes are having a different experience than their male counterparts. Equity does not mean treating all groups the same, it means ensuring that different groups are being treated as they need to be in order to have the same safe experience. Female athletes will have different safety concerns and different experiences than males in the same sport. It is a failing of the UCCMS to not comment further on this.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Ensuring the safe sport needs of female athletes are included as part of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission is a vital step in achieving equity in sport. The commission should start by asking athletes what they need to feel safe and building policies around female athletes’ informed and lived experiences. This would be a powerful step forward on the road to ensuring a safe sport environment for female athletes across the county. 


I Did Not Receive Carding – What Now?

By: Robyn Jeffries (Case Manager), Brayden Mulhern (Caseworker) & Daniel Torch (Caseworker)

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at [email protected]

If you have been excluded, had your nomination rejected, or had your card withdrawn, this post provides an overview of how to understand the factors that lead to the decision, how the appeals process works and how the Sport Solution Clinic can assist you.

Step 1: Seek Legal Advice

We recommend that athletes seek legal advice when dealing with non-selection issues, as they are trained to help you understand your potential courses of action and legal rights. Please feel free to contact the Sport Solution Clinic for pro bono (free) legal assistance: [email protected].

At any point during your appeal process you may decide it prudent or advantageous to obtain legal representation. Here is a link to a page where you can find a list of lawyers and pro bono clinics across Canada to assist you. Please keep in mind that these lawyers and pro bono clinics have no affiliation whatsoever with the SDRCC: http://www.crdsc-sdrcc.ca/eng/dispute-resolution-arbitrators.

Step 2: Understanding the Carding Process

In order to assess whether you have a valid claim to an appeal, it will be beneficial to understand the carding process that your respective NSO employs. Athletes are first nominated by their NSO according to the NSO’s “Carding Policy.” These policies outline the requirements an NSO uses to nominate athletes for the carding process. Carding Policies must be sport-specific and compliant with the Athlete Assistance Program’s (AAP) Policies and Procedures. If there are more athletes within a particular NSO who meet the eligibility requirements, the NSO will rank the athletes based on their Carding Policy.

Sport Canada receives the NSO’s list of nominated athletes and cross-references them with the AAP Policies and Procedures related to carding. Athletes must, therefore, qualify for carding under the policies set out by both their NSO and Sport Canada.

Step 3: Understanding the Potential Points of Rejection

The appeal process varies depending on which point in the carding process the athlete was no longer given consideration. There are two points at which this can happen:

  1. The NSO. In this situation, the NSO did not nominate the athlete or recommended withdrawing the athlete’s card.
  2. Sport Canada. In this scenario, Sport Canada rejected the athlete’s nomination or withdrew their carding.

After having selected an athlete for carding, Sport Canada reserves the right to withdraw carding for any of the following reasons:

  1. Failure to meet training or competition commitments;
  2. Violation of the Athlete/NSO agreement;
  3. Failure to meet athlete responsibilities outlined in the AAP policies and procedures;
  4. Gross breach of discipline, including assertion of or prosecution of a criminal offence;
  5. Investigation for cause; and
  6. Violations of anti-doping rules

Further details on what disqualifiers or types of activities will fall under any of these categories can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/funding/athlete-assistance/policies-procedures.html#a13

Step 4: Understand Your Options

In both scenarios, the athlete can accept the decision made by the NSO or Sport Canada, or choose to appeal it. While the appeals process is generally similar, it is vital to refer to the procedures and rules in the appeal policies of the decision maker, specifically the NSO or Sport Canada. Also, please note that the time restrictions for the appeal processes are strict. Any appeals not made within the specified time frame may or may not be considered, at the discretion of the NSO director, or in cases of an AAP appeal, at the discretion of Sport Canada Senior Director of the Programs Division. Any decision allowing or disallowing an appeal made by the Sport Canada Senior Director cannot be appealed.  

Scenario (1): NSO

If an athlete’s name is not put forward to Sport Canada, an appeal may be lodged according to the internal appeal process of the NSO. Here is a link to NSO’s with their own internal appeal process: http://www.crdsc-sdrcc.ca/eng/appeal-policies

Scenario (2): Sport Canada

If the NSO puts forward an athlete’s name and Sport Canada rejects that nomination, the athlete may lodge an appeal within 15 days from the decision date under the appeal procedure outlined in the “AAP Policies and Procedures.”

Before directing you to the general appeal process through the SRDCC, it is important to note that you can also appeal through the internal appeal process of the relevant NSO. Many, though not all, NSO’s have an internal appeal process. The NSO’s internal appeal process is most commonly used when the NSO does not nominate the athlete for carding. The SDRCC encourages the utilization of these processes and has provided guidelines for NSO’s to create their own internal appeal processes.

Step 5: Appeals

If you believe that there were procedural errors in the appeal or facts or circumstances that warrant a further appeal, then you are entitled to file a Request form to the SDRCC in the timeframe provided in the relevant appeal policy, or if no timeframe is specified in the NSO appeal policy, no later than 30 days after the decision was rendered. 

The SDRCC Jurisprudence Database (http://www.crdsc-sdrcc.ca/eng/dispute-resource-databases-jurisprudence) provides athletes with the ability to search for cases similar to theirs. This may be useful for determining your chances of a successful appeal. While athletes are free to take this step on their own, we recommend using the legal services available to you, as listed above.

Sport Solution Clinic identifies gaps in the safe sport system for provincial / territorial-level athletes

By: Amanda Fowler and Safiya Nanji

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at [email protected]

In the last year, Canada has seen high-profile abuse scandals across many sports, such as with Hockey Canada, Gymnastics Canada, Boxing Canada, and Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton

These scandals exposed abusive coaches, institutional mismanagement, and an overall failure for an appropriate response. Athletes, from all levels of sport, have fearlessly come forward with personal stories of abuse and some have filed formal complaints. As a result, the Minister of Sport at the time, Pascale St-Onge, acted. 1 Minister St-Onge oversaw the implementation of Abuse-Free Sport, Canada’s new independent system for preventing and addressing maltreatment in sport. However, it must be highlighted that this new system does not serve most athletes in Canada. Of those not covered, the most notable are provincial / territorial-level athletes.

Overview of Abuse-Free Sport

Before unpacking how and why provincial/territorial athletes fall into a gray area, it is important to have a general understanding of the Abuse-Free Sport framework. Abuse-Free Sport is composed of three entities: 

1) The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (“OSIC”)

2) The Maltreatment in Sport Sanctions Council (“MSSC”)

3) The Director of Sanctions and Outcomes (DSO). 

OSIC is an independent third-party body responsible for administering the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) through a trauma-informed process for national athletes and federally-funded National Sport Organizations (NSOs). 2 The UCCMS covers a wide range of maltreatment: harassment, psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, grooming, boundary transgressions, discrimination, failure to report, and aiding and abetting in any of the aforementioned acts.

OSIC receives concerns in two manners: 1) individual participants submit complaints of alleged violations of the UCCMS, and 2) individuals or organizations request a sport environment assessment to investigate systemic UCCMS-related issues within a particular sport. Once complaints are adjudicated, the DSO makes decisions about provisional measures and has authority to impose sanctions on program signatories. The MSSC is directly accountable to the Canadian sport community to address discipline and sanctions. The MSSC oversees the operations of the DSO and ensures the DSO applies the UCCMS fairly and consistently, protects and promotes public interest, and ensures for an efficient and effective discipline process. Although each of these bodies are independent, the intent is for them to work together to ensure athletes are protected.

Provincial / Territorial-Level Athletes are Not Covered by Abuse-Free Sport

In 2022, the Federal Government committed $13.8 Million to implement OSIC as the new independent safe sport mechanism. 3 The budget notes state “[f]rom beginners to Olympians, every athlete in Canada should be safe from abuse, harassment, and mistreatment.” 4 The notes further state the Federal Government is “ensuring that our sporting institutions across the country are accountable for the treatment of their athletes to building a sport system that promotes the safety and well-being of Canadian athletes.” 5

However, with limited exceptions, OSIC only serves national-level athletes – a small fraction of athletes in Canada’s sport system. 6 Abuse-Free Sport operates on a federal mandate and has a limited basis of contractual jurisdiction. In effect, it can “only do what it is funded to do and can only carry out the mandate it has been given at this time.” 7

NSOs are required by Sport Canada to publish a safe sport policy, adopt the UCCMS, and opt-in to OSIC, failing which they are stripped of funding among other consequences. 8 No requirements of this kind are placed on Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (PSOs).  They may opt-in to OSIC if they wish. As of March 2024, only one NSO – Volleyball Canada – is a program signatory of OSIC with its services available at the National, provincial / territorial and club / local levels. Even if there is proper jurisdiction for a provincial/territorial safe sport matter, OSIC and the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) may still exercise discretion to reject the case. 

Notably, OSIC concluded its first year of operations. Of the 193 complaints OSIC received between June 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, only 66 of them, or 34 per cent, were deemed admissible for investigation. 9 OISC referred over 50 per cent of complaints to alternative organizations, including provincial/territorial sport bodies. This shows OSIC’s current mandate is limited, and safe sport issues are pervasive within all levels of sport.

The lack of harmonization and OSIC’s statistics suggest that provincial/territorial athletes are not able to be protected until they become national athletes. This can be problematic because athletes, coaches and management move within the Provincial/Territorial and National Sport Organizations. Without proper recourse for athletes in the form of consistent safe sport policies, procedures, and sanctioning across both levels of sport, it is difficult to hold offenders at the provincial/territorial level accountable for athlete maltreatment and athletes are trapped in abusive environments until they make the national team.

Barriers to Reporting Safe Sport Complaints at the Provincial / Territorial Level

At the Sport Solution Clinic, we have seen some of the barriers faced by provincial / territorial athletes who have filed safe sport complaints:

  1. PTSOs intentionally delaying the acceptance of a complaint, the issuance of an investigation report or scheduling a hearing for months;
  2. PTSOs finding opportunities to claim a breach of confidentiality by the athlete in order to have the complaint struck;
  3. PTSOs have conducted their own internal safe sport process while being in a conflict of interest;
  4. The safe sport process not being trauma-informed;
  5. PTSOs appointing individuals with no prior adjudication experience to the arbitration panel despite objections;  
  6. No recourse for athletes whose PTSO has breached procedural fairness during the safe sport process;
  7. Appeals are directed back to the PTSO for further handling because there is no appeal right to an independent body like OSIC or the SDRCC;
  8. Decisions are arbitrary and have no “reasons” to support a decided sanction; and
  9. PTSOs have no requirement to publish sanctions, which is an issue of public safety for those who may interact with the sanctioned coach in the future.

To our knowledge, issues like these are regular and constant for provincial/territorial athletes making safe sport complaints. It is unacceptable.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Provincial/Territorial governments clearly need to intervene in the safe sport processes of PTSOs. It can start bridging the gap by mandating PTSOs to adopt the UCCMS and join OSIC. A consistent, fair, and accountable safe sport mechanism serving both provincial/territorial and national levels of sport is necessary to remedy the issues listed above (and others). To do so may require collaboration and funding between federal and provincial/territorial governments, National and Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations – and most importantly – involving provincial/territorial athletes.


Sport Solution Clinic Blog: The Relationship Between National Sport Organizations and Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations

By Nic Spagnuolo (Case Manager), Eli Hutchison (Caseworker)

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at [email protected]

National Sport Organizations (NSOs) are the governing bodies for sport within Canada. Among their responsibilities, NSOs work closely with Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs) to implement policies and promote their sport at the regional / grassroots level. 1 PTSOs are self-governing organizations that are responsible for the development of their sport, providing a competitive pathway for athlete development at the provincial or territorial level, selecting provincial/territorial teams, recruiting and training coaches and officials, and conducting provincial/territorial championships. 2. In working towards these objectives, a PTSO is overseen by an NSO, where the NSO sets out rules that the PTSO must follow. The relationship between an NSO overseeing a PTSO is demonstrated through how a PTSO must align with the rules of their NSO, as well as how funding works between them. Additionally, there are implications to this relationship when a member league under a PTSO decides to break away from an NSO.

Alignment with NSO Rules

In regulating sport at the provincial level, a PTSO must ensure that they are complying with the regulations of their NSO regarding rules of play, competition, scoring, equipment, the field of play, and the requirements set out for athletes, coaches, officials and referees. 3 An example of this is the new policy that Hockey Canada, the NSO for ice hockey in Canada, recently implemented regarding dressing room requirements. Effective as of September 12, 2023, Hockey Canada issued a new “Dressing Room Policy” with the purpose of creating a safe, inclusive and equitable dressing room space. 4 Under this policy, all participants are required to wear minimum attire at all times in a dressing room when there is more than one participant present, such as wearing shorts or compression shorts along with a t-shirt. 5 Additionally, this policy includes the “Rule of Two”, which requires two adults to be present either in or immediately outside the dressing room to ensure that the dressing room environment among participants is free from any discrimination, harassment, bullying, or other forms of maltreatment. 6

With Hockey Canada implementing this policy, PTSOs for ice hockey throughout the country are responsible for ensuring that all of their leagues and member associations are adhering to the new dressing room rules. This demonstrates how an NSO can use their oversight over their PTSOs to regulate their sport down to the provincial level.

Funding Between an NSO and a PTSO

Additionally, there is a funding component in the relationship between an NSO and a PTSO. How funding works between them can be demonstrated by again using Hockey Canada as an example.

Each player in a league operated by a PTSO for ice hockey, which falls under the governance of Hockey Canada, must pay a fee as part of their agreement for participation that goes towards Hockey Canada. 7 Hockey Canada then uses these fees to help fund their operations at the PTSO level, which includes funding programs for grassroot development, as well as development programs for coaches and officials in these leagues. 8 Hockey Canada has many additional sources of funding to finance their operations, such as national and international events, sponsorships, government and non-governmental funding, and donations. 9 Part of Hockey Canada’s operations that this financing goes towards, is providing funding to their PTSOs to help operate ice hockey at the provincial/territorial level. This includes providing funding to PTSOs for matters regarding the development of ice hockey across the country, helping to build and maintain the necessary facilities across the country for ice hockey, and to provide PTSOs with the necessary technological equipment for the sport. 10 As seen from looking at Hockey Canada, an essential component to the relationship between an NSO and a PTSO is the funding provided by the NSO to help the sport be played, regulated, and developed to the highest quality at the provincial and grassroots level across the country.

What Happens When a Member League / Organization / Club Breaks Away from a PTSO and an NSO

Although this relationship does allow an NSO to regulate their sport across the country, there can be instances where a member league, organization or club  under a PTSO breaks away from the overseeing NSO. For example, on June 1, 2023, the Board of Governors for the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) opted out of renewing their membership with Hockey Canada. 11 The move came after years of failed negotiations, where the BCHL tried to persuade Hockey Canada to change some of its policies concerning Under-18 (U18) players. 12 Specifically, the BCHL felt that these policies limited the chances of some U18 players from pursuing the option of playing ice hockey in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 13 As such, out of a desire to create more opportunities for players to play varsity ice hockey in the NCAA, the BCHL decided to not renew their agreement with Hockey Canada. 14

Under this move, the BCHL will also no longer be a member of BC Hockey, the PTSO that governs ice hockey in British Columbia under Hockey Canada. 15 This means that the BCHL will now operate as a fully independent league and will not be subjected to oversight from either BC Hockey or Hockey Canada. Without the oversight of Hockey Canada, players on any team in the BCHL will no longer be able to participate in Hockey Canada events, which include provincial and national championship tournaments. 16

Additionally, players in the BCHL will no longer be able to submit claims of abuse or maltreatment to Abuse-Free Sport and the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) or to Hockey Canada’s independent third party. 17 As a result, the BCHL will need to create their own separate system for safe sport policies and for how to deal with any safe sport complaints, which may not be consistent with the policies in place from Hockey Canada and their respective PTSOs. As seen in this example, the relationship between an NSO, PTSOs and leagues at the grassroots level is essential in an NSO having the ability to regulate and govern sport at all levels throughout the country.


The SDRCC, OSIC, NSOs, PTSOs, Sport Solution Clinic, and You

By Tyler Rogerson (Case Manager), Isabella DiMenna (Caseworker), Nicholas Burton (Caseworker) ​​

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at [email protected]

Key Takeaways​

  • Provides an overview of the different administrative bodies and stakeholders that govern and regulate national-level sports in Canada
  • Outlines the legal resources that are available to members of AthletesCAN

Canada’s National Team athletes are busy! Between training, competitions, recovery, and finding time to decompress, AthletesCAN members have demanding schedules. To make matters more complicated, Canadian athletes may be faced with legal challenges throughout their career. These issues may include disagreements over team selection, concerns regarding Athlete Assistance Program funding, Safe Sport disputes, and disagreements over disciplinary measures. 

This blog post will provide Canadian athletes with an overview of the various administrative bodies that govern and regulate high -performance sports in Canada and how they interact with one another. Ultimately, Canadian athletes should know that the Sport Solution Clinic at Western Law exists to provide all members of AthletesCAN with pro bono (free!) legal advice and representation and can assist them in the resolution of their sport-related legal issues.

SDRCC Logo / Logo du CRDSC

The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC)

The SDRCC is created by the Physical Activity and Sport Act,1 and provides alternative dispute resolution for sport-related disputes in Canada.2 In essence, the SDRCC is an administrative body that is responsible for mediating and arbitrating sport-related disputes involving Canadian national team athletes; however, the SDRCC will only become involved after the disputing parties have exhausted their sport’s internal dispute resolution processes. All disputes submitted to the SDRCC are governed by the Canadian Sport Dispute Resolution Code (the Code) which “outlines the procedural rules under which all disputes submitted to SDRCC must [adhere to].”3 The most recent version of the Code (which applies to all SDRCC cases opened after 1 October 2023) can be found here and will be useful for any member of AthletesCAN who would like to bring a dispute to the SDRCC.

The SDRCC offers four different dispute resolution methods: resolution facilitation, mediation, arbitration, and mediation/arbitration.4 Resolution facilitation involves a neutral facilitator “whose role is to try to help the parties to better communicate with each other and to resolve their dispute through an amicable settlement.”5 Similarly, mediation involves a neutral third party who focuses on facilitating a resolution between disputing parties rather than on promoting communication. Mediation will only end a dispute if the disputing parties agree to a resolution.6 The process of arbitration, however, is significantly more structured and “employs a neutral third party to hear the evidence and decide for the disputants how their conflict should be resolved.”7 It is important to note that resolving disputes by arbitration will not be collaborative and the arbitrator’s decision will only favour one of the parties.8 Lastly, mediation/arbitration is a hybrid dispute resolution mechanism that may ultimately result in arbitration. In this mechanism, both parties are given the opportunity to first resolve their issues through mediation. If the mediation process is unsuccessful, both parties will be required to have their dispute resolved by arbitration.9

Beyond its role as an administrative tribunal, the SDRCC aims to educate Canadian national team athletes and provide them with the “tools and guidance to help resolve minor disputes quickly and informally.”10 The SDRCC is committed to proactively connecting with key stakeholders in the AthletesCAN community through the publication of resources, hosting of workshops, and the distribution of educational material about how to best prevent and resolve disputes at the lowest levels.11

For more information on the SDRCC, please visit the SDRCC website.


The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC)

The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner is an independent division of the SDRCC which aims to promote Safe Sport and implement the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) across Canada.12

The UCCMS was first published in 2015 and “is the core document that sets harmonized rules to be adopted by sport organizations that receive funding from the Government of Canada to advance a respectful sport culture that delivers quality, inclusive, accessible, welcoming and safe sport experiences.” 13All sporting organizations that have adopted the UCCMS are held accountable by the OSIC to ensure that their sporting environments are free of misconduct and are spaces where all community members are treated “with dignity and respect.”14

The OSIC enforces the UCCMS in two ways: complaint management and through Sport Environment Assessments. The complaint management process focuses on individuals and involves receiving complaints, conducting initial assessments and independent investigations, imposing sanctions, and providing access to legal and mental health support.15Through its complaint management system, the OSIC has established a mechanism for members of the AthletesCAN community to ensure that they can report and address instances of maltreatment and misconduct.16

Sport Environment Assessments are broader in scope than the complaints handled by the complaint management process. The Assessments aim to investigate and address systemic issues of maltreatment and misconduct which contravene the UCCMS in a particular sport. Sport Environment Assessments are intended “to look for the truth, seek to understand the problem and its root causes, and then look at possible solutions, all of which are ultimately presented in a published report.”17

Both the complaint management and Sport Environment Assessment processes are designed to complement one another and aim to achieve the same fundamental goal of eliminating maltreatment and abuse within Canadian sports and ensuring compliance with the UCCMS.18

For more information on OSIC, please visit the OSIC Website.

National Sport Organizations (NSOs) and Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs)

National Sport Organizations (NSOs) are “the national government bodies for [a] given sport in Canada.”19 At the time of the publication of this blog post, there are 63 federally-funded NSOs in Canada. Although they have many important functions, NSOs manage their sport’s high -performance programs, select their sport’s National Team(s), and manage the promotion of their sport across the country.20 Further, NSOs can directly assist athletes through the Athlete Assistance Program which supplies government funding directly to Canadian athletes nominated by their NSOs.21 A full list of the NSOs can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Notably, many NSOs have provincial and territorial counterparts, Provincial/Territorial  Sport Organizations (PTSOs), which have similar functions to NSOs. An athlete can interact with both their NSO and PTSO at different stages of their career and may even interact with both administrative bodies simultaneously. Due to the significant role that NSOs and PTSOs have in the development, mentoring, and success of their athletes, legal issues can arise between the parties over team selection, funding, and disciplinary measures. It is at this point that the parties may rely on the intervention of the SDRCC and the OSIC and members of AthletesCAN may turn to the Sport Solution Clinic for legal advice and representation.

Ultimately, NSOs, PTSOs, and athletes must work collaboratively within the guidelines of the SDRCC and the OSIC to advance the success of their respective sports and the safety of their sporting environments.

Sport Solution Clinic logo

Western Law’s Sport Solution Clinic

Western Law’s Sport Solution Clinic provides pro bono (free!) legal advice and representation to Canada’s National Team athletes. The Sport Solution Clinic is unique as it is the “only program of its kind in North America and is available to all members of AthletesCAN.”22 The Clinic is dedicated to assisting Canada’s national team athletes in navigating the myriad administrative bodies and systems that govern their sports and provide access to the legal remedies available to them.

The Clinic is supervised by its Supervising Lawyer, Amanda Fowler, and is supported by a staff of 25 students at Western Law. Together, the team at the Sport Solution Clinic provides legal support on a wide variety of legal issues including general inquiries, team selection, Athlete Assistance Program funding, appeals, Safe Sport, discipline disputes, and preparation for mediation and arbitration through the SDRCC.

Ultimately, the Sport Solution Clinic exists to provide free legal assistance to Canada’s national athletes so they can focus on their sporting pursuits and reach their goals on the world’s biggest stages. For more information on the Sport Solution Clinic, please visit the Clinic’s website or contact us at [email protected]


AthletesCAN, Western Law unveil new Sport Solution brand, relaunch legal Clinic’s blog

TORONTO / LONDON, Ont. – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, and the Faculty of Law at Western University, are proud to unveil a new brand for Sport Solution and relaunch the legal Clinic’s official blog on AthletesCAN.ca

The new Sport Solution logo consists of the official AthletesCAN emblem – a triumphant athlete silhouetted within a red maple leaf – carefully centred within a black pillar, symbolizing the strength and stability of justice. The brand is completed with a wordmark lockup in the traditional colours of AthletesCAN and Western University – red, black and white, and purple – respectively.

The new mark gives the Clinic a more unique and distinct brand, while still maintaining its ties to both AthletesCAN and Western.

"AthletesCAN is excited to support Sport Solution as they continue growing and innovating in the ways they aid our members. For nearly 30 years, we have worked with Western Law to bring free legal information, advice, and guidance on sport-related issues to Team Canada’s athletes through this unique and innovative partnership. Today's announcement helps make Sport Solution accessible to an even greater number of athletes, by ensuring their wealth of legal knowledge is available in an easy to access and understand format."

Erin Willson - AthletesCAN President

In addition, the Sport Solution Blog is being relaunched on the official AthletesCAN website, following its initial run during the 2020-21 academic year. The blog will be authored by the Clinic’s Program Managers, and aims to share various expertise, stories, learnings, insights and information to empower national team athletes to make information decisions and assert their rights in legal disputes.

“We are excited about the opportunity for this new brand and platform to build further connections between the Clinic and AthletesCAN members. The updated logo is a reflection of our growth, success and relentless effort in the past four years, where we have become more widely known for protecting athletes' rights in all forms of legal settings - including high-profile and precedent-setting decisions for the sport community. The blog will help us continue to improve access to this information and awareness of the Clinic and its services.”

Amanda Fowler - Award-winning Supervising Lawyer of Sport Solution

The Sport Solution Blog will be published on a biweekly basis until the end of the academic year in April.

Sport Solution was founded in 1996, when AthletesCAN joined forces with the Sports Law Centre, the Faculty of Law at Western, and the Dispute Resolution Centre. The program is the only one of its kind in North America, and is available free for all members, providing relevant information, assistance and guidance on sport issues that may require legal counsel.

“Western Law is grateful for its ongoing partnership with AthletesCAN. The Sport Solution Clinic provides a unique experiential learning opportunity to our students. They can build their practical skills while making important contributions to the lives of amateur athletes and advocacy for safe sport.”

Erika Chamberlain - Dean of Western Law

Canadian national team athletes are invited to register and attend this winter’s AthletesCAN National Team Athlete Town Halls to give feedback on their athlete experiences. All Town Halls are taking place at local members of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network. A full schedule of Town Halls is available here.

About Sport Solution

Sport Solution is committed to supporting an athlete-centred sport system and strives to achieve this objective by counselling and advocating on behalf of Canada’s high performance athletes so their voices are well represented when resolving sport related issues that affect them. 

Follow us on Instagram @sportsolutionclinic or click here

About AthletesCAN

AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world.  As the voice of over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships.

AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.  

Follow us on social @AthletesCAN and Join #TheCollective today.

For more information, please contact:

Alan Hudes
Manager, Communications and Sport Partnerships
613-526-4025 Ext. 224
[email protected]

Kaleigh Rodgers
Communications Specialist
Western Law
519-661-2111 Ext. 82126
[email protected]

Sport Solution Clinic supports public accountability in gymnastics

By Amanda Fowler (Supervising Lawyer) and Laura Wade (Program Manager)

In the longest case AthletesCAN and Western Law’s Sport Solution Clinic (the clinic) has ever been involved with, a former Gymnastics Canada coach, Elvira Saadi, has been banned from coaching athletes for life.

This decision is the first to order a lifetime ban for non-sexual abuse in Canada. It is also the first decision to be made public (a marked departure from Gymnastics Canada’s ‘practice’ of keeping them confidential).

Ms. Saadi was found to have abused athletes through physical, emotional and psychological abuse. This included making disparaging comments about the athletes’ bodies, restricting food and water intake, and instilling fear that became normalized within the gymnastics community. This is significant in the growing safe-sport movement as it recognizes that other forms of abuse, such as emotional and psychological abuse, will no longer be tolerated in sport.

All forms of abuse and maltreatment should be taken seriously, and this decision demonstrates that continuous emotional and psychological abuse will not be sanctioned lightly.

To provide the history of the clinic’s involvement with the matter, the investigation into Ms. Saadi by an external investigator began in November 2020 and the investigation report was issued in April 2022. The case manager recommended that the complaints be referred to a Gymnastics Canada Discipline Committee for disciplinary action.

After an unsuccessful mediation, all the parties (each of whom were represented by counsel) agreed the investigation report would be adopted by the panel as findings of fact. This left the panel to decide the applicable sanction.

Prior to that sanctioning process, both Gymnastics Canada and Ms. Saadi brought motions: Gymnastics Canada disputed whether our client was a proper complainant in the proceeding, and Ms. Saadi sought to quash the hearing based on lack of jurisdiction, apprehension of bias and procedural fairness because of an alleged fee agreement where Gymnastics Canada paid the other complainants’ lawyer fees. (Of note, we were never paid by Gymnastics Canada).

Our client filed responding submissions and was successful in dismissing the requests. In fact, Gymnastics Canada had argued that it ‘becomes’ the complainants and should have carriage and control of the proceedings on their behalf going forward. The panel disagreed. Gymnastics Canada was given a participatory role, and not the ‘party’ status it sought.

At the end of the sanctioning process, the panel issued the following sanction:

  1. A full suspension of membership from Gymnastics Canada and any Provincial Governing Body for Gymnastics in Canada for 10 years with credit served for the provisional suspension period.
  2. Required to complete ethics and healthy coaching education as well as demonstrate a full understanding of Gymnastics Canada’s Code of Ethics and Conduct among other conditions for reinstatement.
  3. If the above conditions are met, permitted to return to training coaches only. She is prohibited from having direct contact or engagement with athletes in any manner.

Given the duration of this case (three years, including a 13-month investigation) it was overseen by three cohorts of the clinic’s program managers: graduated program managers Tyler Matthews, Brittany Bates, and Rheanna Geisel, and current program managers Laura Wade, Dylan Romero-Marshall and Hannah Herrington.

The clinic’s supervising lawyer, Amanda Fowler, was the lawyer of record and Dr. Emir Crowne joined us as co-counsel for the motions and sanctioning hearing.

Canadian Living: This is how Sport Solution Supervising Lawyer Amanda Fowler plays hardball – and wins

By Katia Gorshkova

As a woman in a fast-paced, male-dominated industry, Amanda Fowler is no stranger to working under pressure (and thriving while doing it).

As a Toronto-based sports lawyer, Amanda Fowler has been in the game for seven years and isn’t afraid to play hardball. She represents a range of athletes, both Canadian and international, and tackles a variety of cases, from human rights to safe sport complaints.As a woman in a fast-paced, male-dominated industry, Amanda Fowler relates to the struggles we all face at one point or another: how do we deal with double standards? Where do we draw the line between personal and professional lives? How to set up boundaries?

To get the answers to these questions, we had a chat with Amanda, asking just what a day in her life looks like and how she manages to win in all areas. (Hint: it takes teamwork).