Sports governing bodies have a lot to deal with in 2018. 

  • GDPR
  • 2018 Winter Olympics 
  • 2020 Olympic cycle 
  • Governance and regulatory issues.

On top of that, there’s complaints and disciplinary matters. 

Renegade members.

Former tennis World No.1, Ilie Nastase, for example. In a 2017 high profile Fed Cup match against Great Britain, Nastase was captain of Romania.

  1. He asked the GB team captain for her hotel room number at the pre-match dinner;
  2. He referred to Serena Williams’ baby as – “Let’s see what colour it has; Chocolate with milk”? (this was picked up on his mic, off camera, at a press conference)
  3. He called GB players and coach "f***ing bitches" during the match itself.

A 70-year-old, former tennis great, who thought he could do and say what he wanted. 

He can’t, and he was sanctioned. He breached the International Tennis Federation’s rules.

He was banned from holding any official position until 2021 and fined $10,000. On appeal to an independent tribunal, his ban was reduced by 8 months and his fine increased to $20,000.

The independent tribunal said;

"The appellant did not have to take on the role of Fed Cup captain, but he did; and in doing so he accepted to conduct himself according to a certain set of standards and to lead by example, which regrettably, he failed to do. He must therefore receive an appropriate and proportionate sanction despite his long and illustrious career."

This time last year, the Six Nations and RFU got a ‘telling off’ from World Rugby for not following its rules when letting Joe Marler off the hook for calling a Welsh player ‘gypsy boy’ during a match. The comments were picked up on the referee’s microphone.

World Rugby stepped in and took action. Marler was sanctioned.


The lesson for NGB’s are three-fold.

  1. Have a clear set of rules with clear sanctions, that cover offences like “bringing the game into disrepute”, “breaching the integrity of the sport” or “discriminatory comments”; and
  2. Follow those rules.
  3. Value those rules.

On a more holistic level, the tragic death of MMA fighter Joao Carvalho and the complete lack of regulation, rules and standards governing that sport in Ireland (as highlighted and criticism in yesterday’s Coroners Court verdict) should make all NGB’s value their raison d'être, rules and regulations.