Briana Williams' defence team calls for expedited verdict

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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Briana Williams' legal team has called for an expedited verdict from the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel at the completion of her anti-doping rule violation case yesterday.

But the young athlete's legal representative Dr Emir Crowne was left disappointed that panel Chairman Kent Gammon refused to commit to an early verdict.

Williams has been provisionally selected on Jamaica's team to contest the women's 100m which is scheduled to start on Saturday, a day after the Doha World Championships begin. However, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association has a deadline of Thursday to submit final entries for the event.

“Where we want to get to is a decision, and then we can take the point of do we appeal that, or it's a reprimand and then everybody moves,” Dr Crowne said yesterday.

He continued: “But even in a reprimand situation, WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] still has an independent right of appeal. So, all of these things are in play with very tight timelines. But this is the world in sports law, and this is what we live in. We can deal with that, but we need a decision.”

After Williams' legal team and the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) closed their arguments yesterday, Dr Crowne asked the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel to expedite its verdict, but Gammon made it clear his team would not be forced into arriving at a decision influenced by external forces.

“We have taken into account that factor, but it's not going to predicate how we decide. It has been something that we are familiar with, we are aware of it because this thing has international implication because the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) is also interested in the outcome,” said Gammon.

“But it's not going to cause me and the panel members Miss Denise Forrester and Dr (Majorie) Vassell to rush because of some other event external to Jamaica. But we are moving to decide the matter fairly and we will do so in a good period of time,” he assured.

“We have made no consideration of taking into account any consideration in respect to sanctions or no sanctions with the World Championships in the offering. We have not made any findings nor will we, this is not how we operate.

“We have been asked to follow rules. We have been given laws to operate under, and we've had JADCO present their case and we will make our findings accordingly. We going to do so fairly and impartially and we think the result will be just,” said Gammon.

But time is certainly against young Williams and Dr Crowne believed that the longer arriving at a decision takes, it's like the athlete is being punished twice.

“What we put to the panel is that we wanted what is known as the operative decision. Just tell us the sanction if any, that's all. And then the reasons for the decision, take 20 days, take 30 days. Do the reasons after the fact,” he reiterated.

“Let's not kid ourselves, we all know why from day one we wanted an expedited hearing because it affects Doha.

“The panel is independent of JADCO, yes, but it's not independent of Jamaica. It has to know the environment it is operating in and this is why we are all here today and we have all gathered for this proceeding.

“All we are asking, because unfortunately, this would punish the athlete twice if she has to voluntarily withdraw not knowing the sanction and to Miss Williams' credit she is willing to do that,” said Dr Crowne.

Williams may consider voluntarily withdrawing from the Doha World Championships if a verdict on her anti-doping rule violation case is not handed down ahead of Thursday's deadline to submit names of athletes competing in the women's 100m event.

He continued: “I don't think any athlete would want to be in that spot where they are forced to voluntarily withdraw. But that is where we are in the process, unfortunately.

“All I am willing to say for now is that when these hearings were in fact open hearings, that there were procedural irregularities that wouldn't have happened, and quite frankly didn't happen because I have observed many of them.

“And now that there is a closed hearing, I am very much concerned that process gets dominated in technicalities and get dominated in egos. The reason why I didn't ask for this panel to be opened is because Miss Williams is a minor. This is the one situation... it would have been fair to close the hearing. But otherwise the open hearing makes everyone behave on their best behaviour; no egos and nobody makes snide comments. So there is a lot to be said about that process,” he ended.


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