Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions’ Principal Kevin Carpenter has successfully represented Australian former professional tennis player Mr. Nick Lindahl in resisting an application by the Professional Tennis Integrity Officers (PTIOs) / Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to extend his period of ineligibility for match-fixing offences from seven-years to a life ban for the sport.

Corruption charges were brought against Mr. Lindahl by the PTIOs following an investigation into match he played on the “Futures Tour” in September 2013. Mr. Lindahl did not contest charges brought against him for deliberately losing the match in question and in communicating this in advance to others.

At first instance, the Anti-corruption Hearing Officer (AHO), Mr. Richard H. McLaren, declared Mr. Lindahl ineligible for a period of seven years and was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $35,000 US. The PTIOs appealed the AHO’s ruling to the CAS on a number of grounds, all of which related to their desire for Mr. Lindahl’s period of ineligibility to be extended to life.

The first issue in the appeal for the CAS Panel to decide upon was what period of ineligibility was appropriate under the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP) 2013? The CAS Panel fully agreed with Mr. Lindahl’s submission that the AHO has a wide discretion when it comes to the sanction, and the Panel should not replace its discretion with that of the AHO, unless the sanction was evidently and grossly disproportionate to the offense.

The second issue was whether the AHO had appropriately considered all of the relevant facts?
Once again the Panel agreed with Mr. Lindahl’s submission that the PTIOs could have brought separate charges against him, but they chose not to. As a result, they could not then try and let the same matters through the “back door” solely in relation to the sanction. Therefore, the AHO had considered all of the relevant facts and circumstances in deciding the appropriate sanctions to be imposed on him.

The final issue for the CAS Panel to rule upon in relation to the period of ineligibility imposed upon Mr. Lindahl by the AHO was whether it was an “appropriate period”? They said the seven-year period was proportionate and within the discretion of the AHO, especially as the practical effect of the suspension was to have ended his playing career, not to mention the substantial fine was imposed by the AHO was also an additional deterrent given his ineligibility for any role in professional tennis would contine until this is paid for in full (even if the seven years have elapsed).

Mr. Lindahl had this to say in response to the CAS Panel’s award, “I want to thank Kevin for obtaining me a successful result in what was a difficult period in my life. Kevin’s expertise and knowledge in these areas, as well as his attention to detail, made me feel much more at ease. During and after the case Kevin’s guidance has helped me obtain the result I needed and always made me feel comfortable and relaxed.”

Mr. Carpenter commented, “I am delighted we have been able to represent Nick in this appeal and obtain a positive outcome for him using our expertise regarding the case law and practise in this specialist field of match manipulation. It is important that athletes are properly represented in such matters, even when they have admitted to wrongdoing contrary to the rules and integrity of the sport. Regardless of such an admission, it is imperative that any sanctions applied are proportionate. A seven-year ban has ended Mr. Lindahl’s playing career, however, we are pleased for him that once that period of ineligibility has been spent he will be able to give back to the sport by coaching at some level of the game, as was his objective in fighting the appeal.”

Mr. Carpenter was also pleased with the final paragraph of the award in which the CAS Panel stated:

The full award in the Professional Tennis Integrity Officers (PTIOs) v. Nick Lindahl [CAS 2017/A/4956] can be read here.

Any queries about the case, or any enquiries for advice in relation to any other sports law matter, should be directed to Mr. Carpenter by email to [email protected]