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Maine Law's Sports Law Symposium Explores the 'Olympic Movement'

On Tuesday September 13, 2011 the University of Maine School of Law, in collaboration with the Portland law firm of Preti Flaherty, hosted a symposium on Law and the Olympic Movement. Paul Greene, Preti Flaherty attorney and a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law, moderated a discussion with a stellar panel.

Peter Carlise, also a Maine Law graduate, is a leading sports agent and Managing Director of Octagon’s Olympics and Action Sports Division, responsible for representation and marketing of Olympic athletes. He led off the discussion, explaining the many issues involved in sponsorship of Olympic athletes and how these relationships affect an athlete’s dealings with the national and international Olympic governing bodies.

Sonja Keating followed with a detailed discussion of the legal issues she confronts as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for U.S. Equestrian Federation. National Governing Bodies such as the US Equestrian Federation are responsible for creating and enforcing the policies the Olympic athletes must follow before and after they make an Olympic team. Some examples Ms. Keating discussed included the Governing Bodies’ selection criteria, copyright and trademark compliance issues and the development of a social media policy the athletes must follow while competing.

Next, the audience heard from Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic swimming champion and three-time gold medal winner. She is a national leader in the fight for women’s rights in sports, Legal Advisor for the Women’s Sports Foundation, and a Professor of Law at Florida Coastal Law School. Prof. Hogshead-Makar discussed how the law should protect athletes’ rights, including protection of young athletes from abuse and molestation at the hands of coaches.

Matthew Lane, an attorney at Preti Flaherty and a Maine Law graduate, discussed the Olympic selection process and appeals of that process. Drawing upon his prior career as a professional track and field athlete, Mr. Lane discussed the complicated and flawed selection process for the U.S. Track and Field trials for the 2004 Olympic Games.

A spirited discussion among the panelists engaged a range of issues, including anti-doping codes, athlete rights and advocacy, the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, and comparisons with the NCAA rules. The 2012 Olympic games in London hold promise for a follow-up symposium next year.

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