STILL SUSPENDED: Trinidad and Tobago’s top female sprinter Kelly Ann Baptiste in action on the European circuit in Lausanne, Switzerland, in July 2012.
On August 12, 2014, after 16 months off the track, it seemed as though Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Kelly Ann Baptiste would finally be allowed to compete again after the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) disciplinary panel lifted her ban for an anti-doping rule violation during the IAAF World Championships in Moscow last year.
However, last week, the NAAA received notification that the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) intended to appeal the decision of the disciplinary panel to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in so doing, reinstated Baptiste’s ban.
Baptiste had reportedly tested positive for a banned substance and voluntarily withdrew from the competition in Moscow. The NAAA disciplinary panel, comprising Attorney-at-Law, J Tyrone Marcus as chairman, Brigadier General Anthony Phillips-Spencer of the Defence Force, sports medicine specialist Dr Anyl Gopeesingh, NAAA public relations officer, Peter Samuel, and NAAA general secretary Allan Baboolal, reconvened earlier this month to issue its final ruling on Baptiste’s case having first met on June 6.
According to the NAAA release, the second meeting was necessary due to the prevailing anti-doping rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which stipulated that in cases like that of Baptiste, where Substantial Assistance was provided, the matter needed to be referred to the Doping Review Board of the IAAF before being remitted to the Disciplinary Panel.
According to the NAAA press release, “The substantial assistance provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code and related rules globally are aimed at encouraging openness and full disclosure but have rarely been invoked.
“The most recent substantial assistance case involved US sprinter Tyson Gay, who served a one-year suspension having cooperated with the United States Anti-Doping Agency USADA) and the IAAF. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) acknowledged Gay’s help and did not appeal his one-year suspension.”
Normally, athletes receive a two-year suspension for their first major doping offense but under anti-doping rules the ban can be reduced for substantial co-operation.
The NAAA explained that due to the sensitivity of the information provided by Baptiste, who was co-operating with various anti-doping regulators, her hearing was conducted in strict confidence because of the potential impact her disclosures could have on revealing past or current doping offenses by third parties.
In justifying their decision to lift the ban, the NAAA stated: “The Disciplinary Panel decided on August 12, 2014, that in view of the applicable regulations regarding substantial assistance, Baptiste’s general conduct and co-operation, the decisions in previous anti-doping case law and the fact that she had served a 16-month period of ineligibility (already four months longer than Gay) since the collection of her urine sample, her ban would be lifted with immediate effect, with the panel having the power to reinstate the ban subsequently, if the circumstances so required.”