The services of a legal counsellor for an anti-doping rule violation proceeding are available through the Finnish Sports Law Association’s legal aid system. The system applies to those individuals (athletes and support personnel) who have received a notification of or a request for information on a suspected anti-doping rule violation from FINCIS. Legal aid is only available in cases of anti-doping rule violations processed in Finland.
The legal aid system was taken into use on 1 February 2019. The system is based on a recommendation issued by the Council of Europe on 20 February 2017 (Recommendation on ensuring the independence of hearing panels and promoting fair trial in anti-doping cases). In 2017, FINCIS also started looking for an appropriate party that could assist the persons suspected of committing an anti-doping rule violation. A natural choice was found in the Finnish Sports Law Association, who started the system after receiving funds for this purpose from the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The purpose of the legal aid system for athletes is to provide athletes and other private persons suspected of committing an anti-doping rule violation with access to the services of a legal counsellor with adequate legal expertise in the processing of anti-doping rule violation in the Anti-Doping Hearing Panel with reasonable costs. This system ensures that processing the anti-doping rule violation is performed fairly and equally to all parties.
Athletes may use the services of a legal counsellor even before the anti-doping rule violation is brought to the hearing panel if the athlete or other person entitled to the services of a legal counsellor has received a request for information concerning the anti-doping rule violation from FINCIS and it is possible that the matter is brought to the hearing panel (for example, in the case of a positive A-sample in a doping test).
Legal aid system activities
Anyone interested in legal aid must contact the Finnish Sports Law Association. The association provides the person entitled to the services of a legal counsellor with a list of available counsellors after the person has completed the payment of a deductible of EUR 100 to the association’s bank account.
The person suspected of committing an anti-doping rule violation can then select their preferred counsellor and contact them about the matter.
The duties of the counsellor are completed when the Anti-Doping Hearing Panel has issued a decision regarding the case. It is not possible to get access to the services of a legal counsellor in order to submit an appeal to the Finnish Sports Arbitration Board through the system.