Sport

VCB’s legal team tells why athlete was exonerated

JADCO blundered

BY HOWARD WALKER Senior staff reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, March 15, 2014    

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IT was not just technicalities but serious blunders by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) in the collection of the urine samples of Veronica Campbell Brown which forced the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to exonerate the athlete from any doping violations.

That's the explanation offered by Campbell Brown's legal team of former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson, Nicole Foga and American-based Howard Jacobs during a press conference yesterday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.

The attorneys provided a detailed assessment of the entire case from charge to acquittal.

Lead counsel Patterson said cheating was simply not in Campbell Brown's DNA and he had been shocked when he heard of the adverse analytical finding that she had tested positive for the banned substance Hydrochlorothiazide last May.

He said the gross violations in the taking of the samples, in Jamaican parlance, means for the entire case, "Everything crash".

"What gone bad a morning, can't come good a evening," said the former Jamaican prime minister.

"Once there are errors and violations in collecting the urine sample, there could be nothing for a proper examination by the lab in Montreal of either the A or B sample," Patterson continued.

Renowned athletes' counsel Jacobs outlined what he said were discrepancies identified during the testimony in the case made by JADCO.

"We have heard that Campbell Brown was cleared on some technicality; that's simply not true. She was cleared because no anti-doping rule violation was proven. And the reason that no violation rule was proven is because she didn't do anything wrong. She was completely innocent. Period," said Jacobs.

Jacobs then revealed that Campbell Brown, popularly referred to as VCB, had difficulty providing three urine samples and that, had she taken Hydrochlorothiazide, which is a diuretic that flushes the system, she wouldn't have a hard time passing urine for the samples. Because of that, he pointed out that VCB could only provide partial samples.

"But the most important thing, even before the samples get to a laboratory, you have to know that the integrity of the sample was maintained from the start of the process to the time when the urine is put into the bottles that are sealed and tamper-proof," he said.

"If you can't guarantee the integrity of the sample, anything that happens after that doesn't matter. You can't say that it was her urine, you can't say that the sample wasn't tampered with because rules are set up to guarantee that the integrity of the samples are maintained. That's the first fundamental point of anti-doping," said Jacobs.

He added that the violations were confirmed by witnesses Dr Paul Wright, and Dr Rhonda Hutson, the lead doping control officer and the doping control officer, respectively, and Dayna Williams, JADCO's chaperone.

"We knew these rules weren't followed. Once we heard from the witnesses, and the first was Dr Wright, and he testified that he knew what the mandatory procedures were, but he testified that WADA had told him that JADCO didn't have to follow the mandatory procedures, which seemed odd. So we knew that wasn't true," Jacobs said.

"The next person that testified was the doping control officer and she also knew the procedures were mandatory, and I asked her were they followed. 'No, they were not followed'."

Jacobs said she testified that she could not prove that the samples were not tampered with.

"She said the reasons we didn't follow the rules is because we didn't have any partial sample kits. It's not our fault.

"The last piece of evidence is that the person who was responsible for staying with the urine sample testified that she was with Veronica for the entire time, then it became obvious and she admitted that it wasn't true. She admitted that many times she was not with her.

"Then she also said she collected three samples, then Veronica testified that it was only two partial samples. She never, ever provided three partial samples," he added.

Pointing out that three urine samples were sent to the WADA-accredited lab in Canada, Jacobs further stated that the evidence showed that the samples were not sealed.

"Instead, the partial sample was left opened and unsupervised. Even though the rules said that the doping control officer is supposed to maintain the first partial sample until the rest of the samples are provided, the doping control officer, in this case, did not do that," he reiterated.

With all this in mind, two of the three-member JAAA disciplinary panel -- Dr Aggrey Irons and attorney Lincoln Eaton -- thought VCB had breached the rules, but the chairman, retired chief justice Leslie Wolfe, overruled them and concluded that the athlete should not be sanctioned and all charges against her be dismissed.

"I wish to place on record that I agree with most of the views expressed by them in relation to the evidence adduced. However, I disagree with their approach to the evidence adduced in which a witness called by JAAA viz Dayna Williams testified that Mrs Campbell Brown required three attempts to provide a sufficient amount of urine for the testing," Wolfe stated in the court document.

According to Justice Wolfe, the athlete testified that she provided the required amount of urine after two attempts.

"Let me state that I find this evidence that she required three attempts to produce that amount of urine for testing a very serious discrepancy, and in my view discredits the whole procedure. It makes me wary to act upon the adverse analytical finding," he said in his summation.

"I ask the question, did the finding arise from the urine provided from the two attempts which Mrs Campbell Brown spoke of, or the three attempts referred to by Dayna Williams?" asked Justice Wolfe.

"I am not prepared to accept the result of the testing in light of this irreparable discrepancy. In the circumstance I find that Veronica Campbell Brown did not, in any way, breach the Anti-Doping Rules," concluded Wolfe.

Campbell Brown was given a public warning by the JAAA disciplinary panel, but track and field world's governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) doping review board was of the view that the athlete had not met the necessary standard of proof to establish special circumstances in accordance with rule 40.4.

The IAAF then remitted to the JAAA in accordance with rule 38.21 which now requires that they impose the sanction on the athlete for two years.

Campbell Brown's legal team then appealed the JAAA decision to the CAS, which upheld VCB's appeal and exonerated her.

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