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World Sailing facing breach of EU antitrust law

World Sailing could be forced to re-write their competition rules following a ruling by the European Commission on restrictive penalties.

A legal ruling by the European Commission on 8 December has ordered the International Skating Union to change its strict competition rules that penalise athletes participating in events unauthorized by them.

This ruling could effect all similar bodies, including World Sailing which imposes similar rules on athletes and sailing associations.

The European Commission said that while the ISU’s job in safeguarding athletes’ health and safety is important, its penalties “serve to protect its own commercial interests and prevent others from setting up their own events.”

Therefore, the Commission concluded that the ISU eligibility rules are anticompetitive and breach Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The Commission was ruling after an appeal was made against the ISU by two Dutch speed skaters, after the ISU had threatened them with a lifetime ban if they took part in a new commercial event.

The Commission decision requires the ISU to stop its illegal conduct within 90 days and to refrain from any measure that has the same or an equivalent object or effect.

If it doesn’t, it will be liable for a non-compliance fine of up to 5% of its average daily global turnover.

The ISU is considering an appeal.

European Commission - Press release

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