From Inside the Games

A strongly-worded letter has been sent by a group of German athletes to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, calling for the organisation to reform Rule 40 and divert more of its income directly to competitors.

The open letter, written by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) Athletes’ Commission chaired by fencer Max Hartung, is written as the country’s Federal Cartel Office considers legal action against the DOSB – and indirectly the IOC – over a possible violation of competition law through their controversial Rule 40 restrictions.

The letter also calls for 25 per cent of IOC revenues to go directly to athletes and for 10 per cent to be paid to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The IOC reject the criticisms and insist the current system is the best to provide adequate backing for athletes and other bodies that support them.

Rule 40.3 of the Olympic Charter warns that “no competitor, team official or other team personnel who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games”.

“By submitting to the IOC Charter and thus under Rule 40, it is only marginally possible for athletes worldwide to advertise with partners and sponsors in the economically most important phase of their sporting career,” the letter argues.

“This period is so important for Olympic athletes in particular because they are rather underrepresented in the media presentation in addition to football coverage.

“Athletes are losing crucial advertising revenues and possible further partnerships that can contribute to securing their financial and economic situation.

“In addition, at the Olympic Games, the placed athletes – in contrast, for example, to World or European Championships – get no bonuses.

“From our point of view, Rule 40.3 constitutes an impermissible interference with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of profession under German and European law and thus with the exercise of the profession as an athlete.”

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