Common disciplinary provisions for serious misconduct and serious ethical violations in sports and exercise entered into force at the beginning of 2022. The Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS) is responsible for investigating violations under these disciplinary regulations and for making disciplinary requirements.
Investigation of serious ethical violations is only carried out in relation to events under the control of sports federations committed to the disciplinary provisions. An investigation carried out by FINCIS is not a preliminary investigation as referred to in the Criminal Investigation Act, and FINCIS does not have, for example, the powers or coercive means as referred to in the Coercive Measures Act. However, the principles of the Criminal Investigation Act, such as the presumption of innocence, as well as the principles of proportionality and neutrality, shall be observed where applicable in the investigation.
Investigation carried out by FINCIS
An investigation of serious ethical violations examines whether the reported violation has occurred. If a violation is found to have been committed, it will then be determined when and how it was committed and who has been involved in the case. During the investigation, the involved parties are heard and the available evidence is collected.
Before the reported offence is taken into investigation, it is determined whether an attempt has been made to settle the case with the suspect. If mediation is possible and has not yet been attempted, the party to which the notification of a violation was submitted will refer the case to the appropriate mediation procedure.
If, on the basis of the investigation carried out by FINCIS, the case is likely to constitute a violation of the general disciplinary rules in sport, it will make the decision to refer the case to a disciplinary body. This decision requires the consent of the plaintiff.
The defendants in disciplinary proceedings may be individuals or entities covered by the provisions. With the consent of the plaintiff, the sports federation may participate in the proceedings in support of the plaintiff, unless the sports federation itself is the defendant in the proceedings.
An investigation report shall be drawn up on the basis of the investigation material collected. FINCIS submits the investigation report to the party that submitted the disciplinary requirement, and, based on the information in the investigation report, this party requests a response from the suspected offenders. The submitter of the disciplinary requirement then deliberates the matter and submits a requirement to the disciplinary body. The plaintiff can agree with the disciplinary requirement suggested by FINCIS and provide new elements to support the requirement.
Cases outside the scope of FINCIS investigations
If, following an investigation, FINCIS deems that there are no grounds for suspecting a violation of the disciplinary rules, it will not refer the case to a disciplinary body. FINCIS may dismiss the case as inadmissible or as not requiring disciplinary action if the alleged violation dates back more than five years. In addition, FINCIS does not investigate private-law compensation claims related to the disciplinary violation.
Based on the reported information or the preliminary report, FINCIS may conclude that the case can be solved most naturally with the disciplinary procedures of the sports federation. This will be communicated to the plaintiff who will make the final decision on whether or not to take the case to the sports federation for disciplinary action. The will of the plaintiff will be respected.
Cases falling outside the scope of FINCIS investigations are principally those
- that are subject to a certain sport’s rules and are punishable or sanctioned under these rules; or
- where the alleged violation is an individual case and has taken place exclusively in-competition and can most naturally be addressed by the disciplinary provisions of the corresponding entities, or
- that may constitute one or more of the acts referred to in the disciplinary provisions but are individual in nature and can be resolved most appropriately with the corresponding entities’ own provisions.
It should be noted that instances of excess in competitions and matches may play a role in the overall assessment of the case in the centralised disciplinary system, even if an individual act in a competition or match does not result in centralised disciplinary action.