Sporting glory

Gregory Ioannidis has more than just legal theory to share with his students - he also has an interesting case history

January 21, 2010

No one could accuse Gregory Ioannidis of restricting himself to the ivory tower: the lecturer at the University of Buckingham has just been named one of the 20 most influential sports lawyers in the world.

Six years ago, Dr Ioannidis was at the heart of one of the decade's biggest cases in his field when he represented the Greek sprinters Konstantinos Kenteris and Ekaterini Thanou in a doping case that made international headlines.

The training partners were representing Greece in the 2004 Athens Olympics when they were suspended after missing a drugs test. The pair were eventually cleared of all charges by the Greek Athletics Federation, and Dr Ioannidis went on to negotiate a settlement between them and the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Last month, the lecturer was named one of the world's leading lawyers in the field by SportBusiness International magazine. But he admits that back in 2004 he was not an obvious choice for the job and "wasn't prepared for it".

"We were in the spotlight on a daily basis for more than two years, everybody was talking about it - and that's hard," he said.

But he added that his academic work on the theory of sports law - which touches on human rights, contract law and regulation, among other areas - was helped greatly by putting his legal training into practice.

"When you're there yourself in court, you see the different attitudes of people to the issues. That helps you to put those elements into the theory."

He is keen to share the benefits of his ongoing case work - he has a part-time role with the law firm Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co - with his students at Buckingham.

Dr Ioannidis' own career began under the guidance of renowned barrister Edward Grayson, who he described as "the father of sports law in the UK".

Having finished his basic training and a postgraduate degree in sports law at what is now Anglia Ruskin University, he met Mr Grayson at a conference and they began working together. "He asked me to assist him with one of his books and we published a chapter together. We got on, I suppose," he said.

Dr Ioannidis joined Buckingham as a lecturer in 2003, and said a similar commitment to the next generation of sports lawyers is what motivates him now.

Although the Kenteris-Thanou case was very demanding, he said he does not regret taking it on: "We certainly gained a lot of things out of the case in terms of assisting our students, and that's the most important thing."

John Saunders

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