Lawyer lashes JADCO
Local body scolded after CAS reduces ban on Asafa, Sherone
BY HOWARD WALKER Senior staff reporter [email protected]
Sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson heading to a JADCO hearing at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston in April this year. (OBSERVER FILE PHOTO)
KWAME Gordon, lead attorney for sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson during their antidoping hearing, yesterday lashed the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) and the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (JADDP) after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) significantly reduced the lengthy bans imposed on the athletes in April.
Powell and Simpson were each handed 18-month bans by the JADDP, but CAS upheld their appeals and yesterday reduced the sanctions to just six months, thus freeing them to compete with immediate effect.
Originally the ban extended to December of this year, after both athletes were deemed to have violated doping rules last year June during the National Trials.
Powell and Simpson were represented by Paul Greene in the appeal to CAS.
“It is clear, not just from this ruling, but from other recent rulings, that an assessment needs to be done urgently to determine whether the panellists who sit on these disciplinary panels need to receive training in anti-doping sports law,” Gordon told the Jamaica Observer.
During the disciplinary hearings, Gordon had repeatedly pleaded with the panellists to be “lenient” and not “lynch the athletes”. When the 18- month sanctions were handed down, he argued that they were “excessive”. However, CAS has not only reduced the sentences of both athletes, it also awarded that all costs associated with the appeal, as well as additional monies in legal fees, be paid by JADCO.
“With regard to the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, they need to revisit their approach when appearing in disciplinary matters. We recommend that they use as a guide the approach used by other anti-doping organisations who work along with their athletes to prevent a doping violation, and in the event of a violation, deal with the matter expeditiously and argue for fair sanctions, as opposed to persecuting their athletes,” said Gordon.
“We have always maintained that the sanction handed down by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel was harsh and unsupported by the evidence, as well as the case law. CAS has given a fair and just ruling.
“CAS’s ruling supports the submissions which we made to the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. We welcome the ruling and we are happy that the athletes have been cleared to return to competition immediately,” said Gordon.
Powell and Simpson tested positive for the banned stimulant Oxilofrine at Jamaica’s National Trials in 2013.
The two sprinters had been free to compete since June 18 after CAS granted a stay of the Jamaican panel’s decision.
In a statement from their publicist, Tara Playfair, both Powell and Simpson said they felt vindicated by the court.
“I never felt that I should not have received a sanction,” said Powell. “However, I always felt that the 18 months was not in line with a first-time positive test result and it being proven it came from a tainted supplement.”
Simpson said: “I feel total relief, that we have finally been vindicated. We both knew that we had done all we could to ensure the supplement was okay before taking it… our actions were not intentional and CAS has recognised that. I am truly thankful.” In March, CAS also overturned a ban on Veronica Campbell Brown, citing several blunders by JADCO in the collection of the urine sample.
JADCO sent three urine samples to the World Anti-Doping Agencyaccredited lab in Canada, while the athlete admitted to providing only two samples during testing. The third sample, VCB’s legal team headed by former Prime Minister P J Patterson said, “was a mystery”.
JADCO has been under fire since August 2013 when its former executive Renee Anne Shirley told Sports Illustrated that the agency had only carried out one out-ofcompetition test between February 2012 and the start of the London Olympics in July of the same year. She came under scrutiny from the Jamaican populace who thought she was being mischievous. However, in December, the entire board of JADCO resigned.
Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita Headley, at the time, said that it was hoped the move would restore public confidence.
This led to three high-ranking officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency visiting Jamaica for an audit, following weeks of criticisms after several of the country’s high-profile athletes tested positive for banned substances.
Then, Dr Paul Wright, a senior JADCO doping control officer who had been with the organisation since its inception in 2005, parted ways with the organisation after the British Broadcasting Corporation quoted him as saying that the country’s recent rash of failed drug tests might be the “tip of the iceberg”.
“There is no successful whistleblower who is not a pariah,” Dr Wright told the Observer in March