When disputes arise about who is eligible to participate on the U.S. Olympic Team, or a positive drug test, the AAA provides a forum to resolve them.
Arbitration and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) have a long history together. Since at least 1978, when the Amateur Sports Act (ASA) was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter,1 the American Arbitration Association (AAA) has been the designated organization to administer the resolution of several different kinds of sports disputes, most notably those alleging that an athlete has been denied an opportunity to participate on the U.S. Team for the Olympics. In addition, the AAA is also designated by the United State Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to administer disputes arising out of doping violations.
Since winning an Olympic Gold Medal is perhaps the highest honor an athlete can achieve—one that can open the door to many commercial opportunities—the stakes are high for the athletes who claim their “participation rights” have been violated because Summer and Winter Olympic Games are held but once every four years.
This article discusses this history and the AAA arbitration processes that are mandated to resolve Olympic and other sports-related disputes.