Sport

Simspon to know fate April 8

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 26, 2014    

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SHERONE Simpson will have to wait until April 8 to know her fate after final submissions were presented to the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

Lennox Gayle, chairman of the three-member tribunal, said based on the substantive documents put forward, they will need adequate time to peruse the submissions before making a verdict.

"We have heard earlier from Mr Gordon for the respondent Miss Simpson, and we heard at length from Mr Robinson. Now it is for the panel to consider this vast evidence and information that have been presented to us over the past two months and to make our decision," said the chairman, who is also an attorney.

"Clearly, we are going to need some amount of time. We are still not in possession of all the transcripts, and so we will definitely need some time to peruse this information before us," he added.

Simpson, 29, who failed a drug test last May for Oxilofrine, was not present at the hearing, and her attorney Kwame Gordon pleaded for leniency of six months or less based on mitigating circumstances.

However, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) attorney Lackston Robinson suggested the maximum two-year sanction based on gross negligence on her part.

The scheduled 10:00 am proceedings got going almost half an hour late because of a fire drill at the Conference Centre.

Gordon then fired the first salvo.

Gordon, with his assistant Danielle Chai at his side, noted that there was no dispute as his client had admitted to the doping violation and accepted the provisional suspension from very early.

"So we are aware of the fact that the only issue that is before this tribunal is what sanctions [are] to be applied," said Gordon.

He made it clear that Simpson has been very transparent and cooperative, and hence they are asking for leniency.

"We are submitting that the period of ineligibility, if any, should commence from when the athlete did the initial test. It's only fair, the athlete has not been performing. For eight months she has not been employed. So in a way she has already received her punishment, and I ask you, Mr Chairman, and your panel, take that in mind," pleaded Gordon.

"We are here to discipline an athlete, we are not here to end an athlete's career. This is a disciplinary hearing," said Gordon.

"There is a lesson I learn from my senior counsel. He showed me a pencil when I had made an error as a young attorney, and he said what you noticed about the pencil. I had no idea what he meant. He said there was a rubber on top. It was by design because humans are bound to make errors. Turn around the pencil, erase your error and move on.

"We have accepted that there is some degree of fault and negligence, but what we have argued is that it is minimal, given the circumstances of this case.

"In considering these critical issues, the panel must take into consideration the evidence that were presented," said Gordon.

He then noted that specified substance was in fact in the system of the athlete, Miss Simpson. That on a balance of probability the specified substance Oxilofrine was of a consequence of a dietary supplement, which is Epiphany D1, and the evidence has established that it is improbable that the athlete would have been able to ascertain the presence of Oxilofrine prior to taking it.

"The evidence has shown that there was no intent to enhance performance, and that the Epiphany D1 was being taken as part and parcel of a dietary regime," said Gordon.

"This is an athlete who was prepared to speak about even things that may be considered detrimental to her own case. She never had to say she received injections. There was no need for her to say that. She didn't have to say what the other supplements were, or certainly the type of treatment she was getting from Mr Xuereb (Chris)," Gordon reasoned.

However, Robinson reiterated that Simpson cannot rely on mitigating circumstances and must get the full sanction.

"The respondent cannot rely on article 10.4, cannot rely on article 10.5.2. But in any event, even if that was not so, on the evidence in this case, Miss Simpson is guilty of gross negligence," said Robinson.

"She is taking supplements from Mr Xuereb, who she had just met a matter of less than a month. You don't find out where they came from. She knows nothing about Mr Xuereb's antecedents at all.

"Having regard to the standard of care, how can one say, in those circumstances, that she has measured up, or to say that she was not significantly negligent," he argued.

He continued: "It borders on fairy tale. No athlete who takes the business seriously could have someone come from abroad as a therapist, knows nothing about their qualifications, knows nothing about them, and they are giving you supplements and you are taking them without any enquiry. If that is not gross negligence, nothing is, Mr Chairman."

"As it stands in this case, she cannot get a reduction under 10.4 because she has not satisfied the compliance of 10.4. She cannot get a reduction under 10.5, too, because she was significantly negligent, so the only thing open to you the panel is the mandatory sanction under 10.2," submitted Robinson.

Like Simpson's case yesterday, Asafa Powell's case will resume today with final submissions before a date is set for the ruling to be handed down.

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