The physical condition of sports practitioners

The legal framework of the sports practitioner employment contracts establishes several limitations to athletes' freedom. A particularly relevant one is their duty to maintain an excellent physical condition to ensure they are not unfit to participate in their respective sports competition.
Articles 30/11/2022

Law no. 54/2017, of 14 July, establishes the legal regime of the sports practitioner employment contract, the sports development contract, and the representation or intermediation contract.

When analysing section c) of article 13 of the statute above, entitled “Duties of the sportsperson”, one may read: it is the duty of the sportsperson to “preserve a physical condition that allows him or her to participate in the sporting competition which is contemplated in the contract”. In other words, athletes must be in the best physical shape possible.

This provision seeks to prevent situations in which the activities of the sports practitioner on leisure days jeopardise a performance at a high level. The critical question is: does the duty to maintain a good physical condition remain in effect even when no competitions are being held, such as holidays and rest days, impacting, obviously, the freedom and private life of athletes?

For example, athletes should not engage in recreational sporting activities, do extreme sports, or consume alcohol on the weekdays before matches. Furthermore, this obligation is particularly significant during certain times of the year, such as the Summer and Christmas holidays.

As one can see, despite the sportsperson being on holiday, this duty related to the employment contract does not suspend. Therefore, weight gain, excessive eating, and sedentary behaviour, typical of these times of the year, are proscribed to athletes.

It is thus essential to ascertain what justifies such a regime. It is excessively harsh on a sportsperson’s private life to restrict his/her periods of absence from competitions. At the same time, it is in the sporting employer’s interest to prevent its athletes from engaging in certain activities since being in the excellent physical condition is crucial for future sporting triumphs.

The content of this information does not constitute any specific legal advice; the latter can only be given when faced with a specific case. Please contact us for any further clarification or information deemed necessary in what concerns the application of the law.


Practice Areas

  • Sports Law