The Lex Sportiva Turns Up at the Turin Olympics: Supremacy of Non-State Law and Strange Loops

JusLetter, April 20, 2006

16 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2006


This article analyzes the concept of lex sportiva and its interactions with the public legal system. Its approach is one of legal theory (more precisely continental European legal theory), drawing on the theories of authors such as Santi Romano, Fran├žois Rigaux, Fran├žois Ost and Michel van de Kerchove.

The prime example used in this study is the conflict, which took place during the months preceding the opening of the Olympic Games in Turin, between the International Olympic Committee and the Italian government.

The first point in question was the determination of the sanctions applicable to doping cases. Would it be a two-year suspension, as provided by the World Anti-Doping Code, as the International Olympic Committee demanded? Or would the criminal sanctions (including up to three years' imprisonment) provided by the Italian anti-doping law be applicable?

The second conflict was about the entity conducting the doping tests: the Italian government wanted the country's anti-doping commission to administer the tests, while the International Olympic Committee insisted on conducting its own tests during the Torino Games.

The author's contention in this article is that the outcome of this conflict constitutes a new example in the field of sports law of the preeminence, from a realist's point of view, of a private legal system (the Olympic lex sportiva) over the public legal system (Italian law).

Note: Downloadable document is in French.

Keywords: Sports, sports law, lex sportiva, doping, drugs, International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Code, legal systems

JEL Classification: K4, K40, K14, K32, K00

Suggested Citation

Schultz, Thomas, The Lex Sportiva Turns Up at the Turin Olympics: Supremacy of Non-State Law and Strange Loops. JusLetter, April 20, 2006 , Available at SSRN:

Thomas Schultz (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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