After receiving the unexpected invitation to help at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Gary Roberts said he did not think about it for more than a second before accepting.
The dean emeritus of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law will be part of the Court of Arbitration for Sport ad hoc Division which will settle all legal disputes that arise during the games.
Roberts will be one of nine arbitrators who are either lawyers, judges or professors with a specialization in sports law and arbitration.
An expert in the field of sports law, Roberts has 30 years of experience in the niche. He is currently a certified commercial and sports arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association and is a founding member of the board of directors for the International Association of Sports Professionals and Executives.
“There is nothing I can do to cram for the assignment,” Roberts said. “I will bring all of that knowledge and experience to bear, but there isn’t much I could do now to prepare.”
The panel will primarily handle two types of disputes: those concerning an athlete’s eligibility and those about fairness. Eligibility questions may arise from a positive drug test, challenges to an athlete’s country of residence or accusations about an athlete having an unfair competitive advantage. Fairness disputes can crop up from arguments that the rules were not followed, claims the equipment did not function properly or assertions the referees were biased.
Roberts explained many of the cases that come before CAS Ad Hoc Division are very, very important to people who are involved. The decisions could mean the difference between an athlete who has trained for years not being allowed to compete or not receiving a medal.
The rulings of the council will have consequences and could be controversial, Roberts said.
The Olympic Games will start Feb. 7 and conclude Feb. 23.
During the games, Roberts, along with his colleagues, will be on call. When a legal dispute erupts, he explained, he will have two hours to change into his suit and get to the hearing room.
However, when he is not helping to settle cases, Roberts will be allowed to take in any event he wants.
“I’m always joking I’m getting very excited about the curling,” he quipped.