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Independent panel to arbitrate in disputes

Sports Politics
A high-powered arbitration panel to settle sporting disputes in Britain is planned for the new year. The aim is to keep problems out of the courts and avoid expensive legal action.

The independent body will combine legal experts, administrators and competitors and will hear doping, disciplinary and eligibility cases. The idea was first floated some years ago by the Duke of Edinburgh in his position as president of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, while more recently, the Diane Modahl affair has brought the issue into focus.

The International Olympic Committee put similar a measure into operation at the Atlanta Games.

Charles Woodhouse, the chairman of a steering group involved in setting the body up, said: "Cases reaching the courts benefit no one, not even the lawyers. They are costly and can destroy relationships between governing body and athlete.

"The important thing is that the panel is independent. If not it will not command the respect of the athletes."

The steering group includes representatives from the CCPR, British Olympic Association, Sports Council and Institute of Professional Sport.

Woodhouse, a legal adviser to the CCPR, said National Lottery money may be sought to finance the initiative.

Tony Ward, a spokesman for the British Athletic Federation, said: "Anything that takes sporting disputes out of the legal area has to be welcomed by everyone."