Sports Law: Federal Supreme Court finds German Olympic Sports Confederation Liable for Damages for Failure to Nominate Athlete for Olympic Games

von Peter Bert

Charles Friedek, the former triple jumper who was world champion in 1999, has been suing the German Olympic Sports Confederation (Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund, DOSB) on the basis that DOSB wrongly failed to nominate him for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) has today confirmed the first instance judgment that had held the Olympic Committee liable for damages in principle. Friedek is claiming lost Revenue, made up of foregobe appearance fees, price monies and sponsorship deals.

At the time, the DOSB nomination guidelines (Nominierungsrichtlinien) for triple jump provided for a so-called A norm of 17.10 meters and, in the alternative, a so-called B norm of two times 17.00 meters. During the nomination period, Charles Friedek exceeded 17.00 meters twice during one competition. In subsequent competitions, however, he did not exceed 17.00 meters, or only under impermissible wind conditions. The DOSB failed to nominate him, and took the position that the B norm had to be interpreted to the effect that the 17.00 meters had to be exceeded in two different competitions.

The District Court Frankfurt (Landgericht) in 2011 found in Friedek’s favour, whereas the Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht) Frankfurt in 2013 dismissed his action and followed the interpretation provided by the DOSB.

The Federal Supreme Court reversed the appeal judgment. The court held that the defendant DOSB was legally obliged, since it had a monopoly for the nomination of athletes to the Olympic Games, to nominate all athletes that met the requirements set by itself ...

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