An opinion from the EU’s top court has found that a national anti-doping authority that published the personal data of a doped professional athlete did not breach GDPR privacy rules.
The case was taken by an Austrian professional middle-distance runner who was found guilty of acting in breach of Austrian anti-doping rules.
The Austrian Anti-Doping Legal Committee (ÖADR) banned her from participating in sporting competitions of any kind for a period of four years.
That decision was confirmed by the ÖADR and by Austria’s independent arbitration committee, the USK.
The athlete had sought a review of a decision by the Independent Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to publish the athlete’s name, her anti-doping rule violations, and the period of suspension in a table of suspended athletes on its publicly accessible website.
‘No EU law rules’
The USK then sought guidance from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on whether the publication of this personal data was compatible with the GDPR.
In an opinion published today (14 September), Advocate General Tamara Ćapeta said that the GDPR did not apply to the factual circumstances of the case.
She pointed out that anti-doping rules were concerned with sport’s social and educational functions, rather than its economic aspects, adding that there were currently no EU law rules that related to the anti-doping policies of member states.
“Without even an indirect link between the anti-doping policies and EU law, the GDPR cannot regulate such processing activities,” the advocate general ruled.
She said that the GDPR allowed the processing of personal data in a pre-determined context without the need for any individualised proportionality assessment.
“The interference with the rights of professional athletes brought about by public disclosure can be justified by the preventive aim of deterring young athletes from committing doping offences and of informing relevant stakeholders,” the judge decided.
The opinion of an advocate general is not binding on the court, which will deliver its judgment at a later date.