So how can Blockchain help the integrity of sport?

Blockchain technology is a peer-to-peer network concept. The internet allows users to connect to a centralised point within the network. For example, a specific website will be hosted on a physical computer, which is connected to the internet. The location of that website, hosted on the computer, will have a specific address. In order for other users to access that website, they must visit that specific address, where the website is hosted. This is a centralised system as every internet user that wants to access that website, will all go to a central point. If the computer hosting that website fails, no one will be able to access that website using the internet.

Blockchain programs will often use the infrastructure of the internet that connects computers all over the world, however, the network concept is not centralised, like the example above, however decentralised and distributed.

A user on the internet may join a blockchain; consequently, they will become part of the blockchain infrastructure.

Using the example of a website, if a website is hosted on the blockchain the data and programme that creates the website will be wholly distributed on each block of the blockchain. Practically, this means that if five users made up the specific website blockchain, all five users will be collectively hosting the whole website. If one block fails, the website remains.

This technology system has a few consequences when a program developer decides to write a program, implementing blockchain technology. Firstly, as stated at the end of the previous paragraph, implementing the technology will grant the host programme greater uptime that if it was hosted on a single device.

As the programme is distributed wholly between the members of the blockchain, a change cannot be made unilaterally, it will require all the members to agree with any change before it is executed; this provides for a safety mechanism in the programme.

This safety feature has allowed a system named “smart contracts” to emerge. These smart contracts are simply algorithms programmed to give specific outputs once specific inputs are put into it; this is not a new concept however when relying on a programme to execute a transaction, there is an issue of trust. Using blockchain technology, the trust issue is met, for the reasons stated above.

Companies and organisations have invested time and money into creating proprietary systems that incorporate blockchain technology, some doing so simply because due to the publicity blockchain has received in the media and its confusion with cryptoassets, such as Bitcoin.

Blockchain is not a technology which should be implemented in every digital programme or system, it is unnecessary and detrimental in many cases, however, there are some use cases for the technology which may change multiple industries in the near future.

Sport

The use of technology in sports is rapidly increasing, as seen in areas such as esports, resulting in significant transformations within the industry. For instance, ground-breaking company Sports Ledger is a platform that combines “high-quality data in order to provide users with intuitive visualisations, predictive analytics and insights into athletes’ biometrics”, utilising cutting-edge blockchain developments.

Olympics and Esports

It has been predicted that by 2020, esports will have generated a total of at least £1billion in profits worldwide. In 2018, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hosted an esports forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss the future of esports, and whether it could ultimately be accepted as an Olympic sport.

Thomas Bach, President of IOC, stated, “esports is clearly an exciting and growing sector in which millions of young people worldwide regularly engage in. The Olympic movement cannot ignore such a phenomenon by any means.”

On reflection of the Esports Forum, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell specified that the IOC is now “in a strong position to coordinate and support the wider engagement of the Olympic Movement with esports”.

Anti-Doping and Blockchain

Doping denotes the use of banned substances in competitive sports. Scandals concerning doping have continually persisted across various sports, including tennis, cycling and swimming.

In 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database was compromised by Russian hackers, resulting in the unauthorised disclosure of confidential medical data in respect of “therapeutic use exemptions” belonging to athletes including Simone Biles and Serena Williams.

There is a fine line between respecting athlete privacy and maintaining transparency. Blockchain could serve as an upgraded security system in which to record sensitive athlete medical data. Once data has been entered into the blockchain system, it cannot be altered. Blockchain is fundamentally a more advanced form of data protection.

Russian national gymnast, Alexander Chernozubov, stated that “blockchain could also have useful applications in the sports ecosystem. The issue is of importance because Olympic athletes were shocked by the disclosure of their private data, which cast a shadow on their performances and results”.

The blockchain system could essentially provide the assurance of prosecution in doping in competitive sport due to its high level of security.

Athlete Investment and Blockchain

JetCoin is currently at the forefront of a blockchain and athlete investment concept. The JetCoin Institute permits sports fans to purchase athlete shares and image rights as an investment while obtaining various benefits in the process. This innovative model will allow fans to engage directly in the careers of emerging athletes.

For further information or to find out how we can advise you on the Crypto Asset industry within Sport, please contact Mohit Pasricha – Head of Sports Law, Mohit.pasricha@mackrell.com  00 44 (0) 20 7240 0521 or Crypto Specialist Thomas Hulme, Thomas.hulme@mackrell.com, 00 44 (0) 20 7240 0521.

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https://blog.mackrell.com/can-blockchain-help-integrity-sport/
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Mohit Pasricha

Mohit Pasricha

Solicitor at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Mohit is a solicitor and Head of Sports Law at Mackrell Turner Garrett, advising and representing clients within the sports sector by providing specialist advice on a wide range of commercial, corporate and intellectual property matters. His clients include clubs, commercial sponsors, sports agents, and individual sporting professionals.