As an elite athlete, you have the legal right to participate in an international competition if you have earned your spot on the team. If you’ve been wrongly denied a spot on a national team or your current position is at risk of wrongly being taken from you, our experienced sports lawyers can explain your legal options in team selection disputes and help you determine the best path forward.

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rowing team on the water

Time is of the Essence in Team Selection Disputes

Since team selections often happen right before the start of a major international competition, it is imperative that athletes who believe their rights have been violated take prompt action. Where to file a team selection grievance depends on your sport and country:

  1. Within your sport governing body
  2. With the American Arbitration Association for U.S. disputes
  3. With the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) for Canadian disputes

Understanding U.S. Section 9 Disputes

Section 9 of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) bylaws allows athletes the opportunity to challenge a denial of their opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, Paralympic Games, World Championships, or any other protected competition.

Canadian Team Selection Disputes

The SDRCC Code permits a Canadian athlete to file a request for arbitration against a governing body it feels has wrongly denied them a rightfully earned place on a Canadian team. Arbitrations are filed with the SDRCC where the issue is whether the governing body properly made its selection decision in accordance with the established criteria.

Our Sports Lawyers Can Help You Properly Submit Your Team Selection Complaint

With the help of experienced sports lawyers, an athlete must submit a complaint that includes:

  • A complete list of the facts that support the alleged denial or threat of denial of the athlete’s opportunity to participate
  • The identity of the respondent (i.e., the governing body)
  • The specific competition(s) in which the athlete’s participation is affected
  • The remedy the athlete seeks
  • The names of any individuals who may be “affected” by the outcome of the case

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Criteria for Team Selection Disputes Procedures

Team selection disputes procedures can consist of objective criteria, discretionary criteria, or both.

Objective Selection Procedures

National Governing Bodies may decide to have completely objective selection criteria when determining which athletes will make their respective national teams. Such objective criteria include being in the top 10 world rankings after a certain cutoff date or finishing in the top 3 during a trials event. If the criteria are applied properly, and athletes are given proper notice of them, arbitration panels will defer to the decisions of National Governing Bodies and the procedures that were followed. Athletes will succeed when their sports lawyers establish that the team selection criteria were not properly followed.

Discretionary Selection Procedures

Some of the discretionary criteria that can be used for team selection disputes include:

  • Physical and technical performance
  • Ability to contribute to the team beyond a physical and technical role
  • Willingness to perform for the entire season (and potentially beyond)
  • Fit with existing team dynamics

Governing bodies who select teams based on discretionary criteria are entitled to more deference; however, they are not entitled to unfettered discretion. The discretionary factors must be based on objective facts in order to ensure that the factors are fairly applied, and our experienced sports lawyers can help you prove that.

International sports lawyer for team selection disputesAre You an Athlete Who Has Been Denied a Spot on a Team? Our Sports Lawyers Can Help!

If you've been denied a spot on a national team or your position is in jeopardy, you need to speak with our experienced sports lawyers as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule your initial consultation.

Our sports lawyers are devoted to the very specific practice of sports law and have represented athletes from over 50 countries. We are dedicated advocates for athletes and will work diligently to protect your athletic career and professional reputation. Don't hesitate. Contact our sports lawyers today.

Paul Greene
Recognized as one of the world’s leading sports lawyers and a well-known speaker and author.