Hylton lawyer accuses JADCO of breaching own guidelines

BY SANJAY MYERS Senior staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 31, 2017

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Yesterday, the Independent Anti-doping Disciplinary Panel, convened to decide whether Jamaica 400-metre runner Riker Hylton is guilty of an anti-doping rule violation, set the hearing for 10:00 am on May 30 and 31 at Jamaica Conference Centre.


However, the preliminary session took a unique turn when Dr Emir Crowne, who is the athlete’s lawyer, alleged that the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission (JADCO) committed a breach of its own guidelines.


He said JADCO was wrong in the manner in which it provisionally banned Hylton, who sat quietly beside his lawyer yesterday.


The three-member disciplinary panel said it will rule on the matter today at 2:30 pm at the conference centre. The panel is chaired by Georgia Gibson Henlin, QC. She is flanked by Denise Forrest and Dr Japheth Ford.


In his application, Crowne said the 28-year-old Hylton was provisionally suspended and then told he was entitled to a hearing at JADCO in front of Carey Brown, the commission’s executive director.


The Trinidad & Tobago-born Crowne charged that this has been a JADCO practice since 2008 and that "dozens of athletes" have been affected.


"That process is completely at odds with — forget even sports law — basic natural justice. There is no way that process survives. It’s like a police officer arrests you and says for your bail hearing you are going to appear before the commissioner of police. JADCO has no ability to conduct its own hearing; that is fundamentally repugnant," Crowne told reporters at the end of yesterday’s sitting, which lasted close to two and a half hours.


"Mr Hylton has no need for an expedited hearing, but the larger issue is that that provisional suspension is completely contrary to natural justice, contrary to law, contrary to the [World Anti-doping Agency] code, and it’s contrary to even the powers given to JADCO by parliament under the Anti-doping in Sport Act.


"My client is not only concerned about his own well-being, but he wants to make sure that JADCO does not abuse its very dominant position in affecting the lives and careers of Jamaica’s athletes," he added.


JADCO attorney Lackston Robinson was not available for comment after the sitting, but during the series of cordial exchanges between him and Crowne, he posited that the application from the respondent is outside of the disciplinary panel’s jurisdiction.


Hylton, a 400m relay bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Republic of Korea, and a semi-finalist in the individual 400m race at that same championships, is charged by JADCO of evading or refusing to submit his sample for tests some time last year.


The runner faces a maximum ban of four years if found guilty.


Jamaica’s 400m hurdles star Kaliese Spencer is facing a similar allegation in a separate case.


Earlier yesterday, after 2:35 pm start, the disciplinary panel had both parties agree to submit their respective bundle of documents. JADCO is to submit by April 19 at 4 pm, while the respondents’ submission is set for latest May 10 at 4 pm.


Both were given permission to submit via e-mail, but asked to provide the hardcopy version within two days after.


But what first appeared a straightforward session to decide on dates, stretched late into the afternoon after Crowne moved to have the provisional suspension lifted.


He argued that the provisional suspension goes against WADA’s guidelines and that he felt JADCO’s handling of such matters was of "great national importance", not just for Hylton, but for all Jamaica’s athletes.


Robinson, in his response, said the rules provide for provisional suspension, and added that he does not "believe" such an application can be made to the disciplinary panel due to jurisdictional issues. Robinson, who sat next to Brown, said it was instead to be brought in front of an appeals’ panel.


Crowne replied that while he agrees that the guidelines provide the anti-doping commission the power to suspend provisionally, the hearing on that suspension cannot be convened by a JADCO team led by its executive director.


He said such a hearing has to be in front of an independent panel, and he claimed that anything else is "unfair and not impartial" and violates WADA’s rules of a respondent’s right to a fair hearing.


In his counter, Robinson reiterated that the disciplinary panel has no jurisdiction to review such an appeal. Thereafter, Gibson Henlin adjourned the preliminary hearing and set today for a ruling on that matter.

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