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EU: Personal data public disclosure is justified if deters doping offences, Advocate General holds

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) published, on September 14, 2023, the opinion of Advocate General (AG) Tamara Ćapeta in Case C-115/22 NADA e.a. concerning a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Independent Arbitration Committee of Austria (USK). Following an anti-doping case that resulted in the athlete's suspension by the USK, the Independent Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) published the athlete's name, their anti-doping rule violations, and the period of suspension on its publicly accessible website. The athlete subsequently submitted a request for review of the decision before the USK, which requested the CJEU to rule whether the publication of the personal data on the internet of a doped professional athlete is compatible with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Further to the above, the AG considered that the GDPR does not apply to the factual circumstances of the case, explaining that there are presently no EU law rules that relate to the anti-doping policies of  Member States. According to the AG, without even an indirect link between the anti-doping policies and EU law, the GDPR cannot regulate such processing activities. 

Alternatively, the AG took the view that the GDPR does permit the processing of personal data in a pre-determined context without the need for any individualized proportionality assessment, concluding that, in the case at hand, 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 offenses and of informing relevant stakeholders.

You can read the press release here and the opinion here.