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During a French television program in 2016, the former French Minister for Health and Sports publicly accused Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal of doping during his absence from tennis between 2012 and 2013. Ms. Bachelot claimed that the player’s absence from tennis was “due to testing positive for doping” and not due to a knee injury as had been announced.

Given this accusation and the resulting media coverage, the tennis player from Manacor in Mallorca took legal action against Ms. Bachelot for defamation, seeking, according to the media, €100,000 in damages.

The French courts gave judgment in favor of the player, acknowledging a breach of the right to honor even if the courts confirmed a damages amount that was much lower than that sought by the player. Ms. Bachelot was ordered to pay the tennis player €10,000.

News items such as this one referring to the well-known tennis player and a former minister making allegations about him have a huge impact and generate an interesting debate about the amount that should be imposed for these kinds of allegations and cases.

The world of sports generates many court resolutions, particularly relating to accusations about prohibited practices such as doping. However, all the resolutions differ regarding the damages amount to be paid to the aggrieved parties, given the different factors that come into play, such as the identity of the parties, the media impact of the allegations or the information published about a particular matter.

Whatever the case, these kinds of public allegations should be supported with some form of evidence sustaining their accuracy, otherwise there is the risk of committing civil or criminal wrongs.

Authors: Blanca Puig and Jean-Yves Teindas

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Área derecho Deportivo

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Nuestro equipo de derecho del Deporte está formado por más de 30 abogados de diferentes prácticas jurídicas, especializados en el asesoramiento de todas aquellas cuestiones jurídicas relacionadas con el mundo del deporte. Ofrecemos un servicio individualizado mediante equipos organizados en función de las necesidades de la especialidad y de la disciplina del deporte en cuestión, abarcando, entre otras modalidades deportivas, fútbol, baloncesto, motor, hípica, tenis y ciclismo.

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