NAAA: Unfortunate developments in a sensitive matter
The Semoy Hackett doping case continues to be a source of contention between Minister of Sport Anil Roberts and the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA). In the latest twist, the NAAA issued a press release, yesterday, titled “Unfortunate Developments In A Sensitive Matter”.
Here is the full release:
“A five-member team from NAAA met with the Honourable Minister of Sport and a ten-member team from the Ministry of Sport and the Sport Company on the morning of Monday 9th September 2013. The meeting was intended to address concerns raised by the Minister at different fora over the past few weeks and to provide an update on the anti-doping matter concerning Ms. Semoy Hackett.
“From the Minister’s opening remarks at the meeting, he set the tone for what unfortunately turned out to be a cross-examination session, instead of a rational dialogue between two stakeholders sharing common sporting goals. It was evident to the members of the NAAA team that rather than seeking to understand the circumstances surrounding the matter, the Minister appeared to be in search of information that would justify what now looks like a set of preconceived notions that he already had. Despite our protestations that the matter was still being arbitrated upon and that he should temper his public comments, he held to his position.
“In an effort to add further clarity and out of respect for his office, we were willing to share additional information with him including contents of correspondence from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that influenced, among other things, our decision to allow Ms. Hackett to compete at the National Championships. Notwithstanding our humble requests that he should respect the legal and procedural process as laid down by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the IAAF, and the confidentiality built in to that process, immediately after the meeting, the Minister proceeded to address the media and followed this up with a full-fledged media conference two days later. We consider this a very unfortunate occurrence as the meeting was intended to be a private, closed door affair and not fodder to fuel a controversial public discourse.
“We also considered it wise to consult our parent body, the IAAF, not only to seek general guidance but also because we were a bit fearful of what some may perceive as a threat to our autonomy as a National Governing Body. It is no secret in the sporting world that a national federation may face sanctions, including suspension, if the international federation believes that there is political or government interference. The IAAF’s response clearly articulated their concern about the Minister’s involvement at this stage of the process.
“It is our view that as the major funder of our athletes, the Ministry is more that an interested partner and key stakeholder, and that it is appropriate to keep its principals informed of important developments. However, because of the current legal process, improper disclosure by the NAAA could run the risk of compromising those proceedings. In those circumstances, the NAAA would be constrained in terms of what information it releases and to whom.
“For the benefit of the wider community, we seek to further clarify our position on this matter:
1. NAAA has adhered to the procedures, rules and regulations prescribed by WADA and IAAF.
2. NAAA has sought and continues to seek legal advice.
3. Notwithstanding divergent views held by NAAA and the IAAF with respect to Ms. Hackett’s suspension, we continue to collaborate with the IAAF to bring closure to the matter.
4. The matter is currently before the Court of Arbitration in Sport and we are being guided accordingly.
5. Member clubs, at a General Council Meeting of the NAAA held on August 29th, were apprised of the circumstances surrounding and the current status of the matter.
6. Like the Minister and our fellow National Governing Bodies, we maintain a zero tolerance on drug use in sport.
7. This matter is a complex one, which demands careful analysis by those directly involved and patience by those looking on. In this regard, we will continue to do our best to reconcile competing, sometimes conflicting issues of protecting our sport, sending a strong signal to potential drug cheats, maintaining the country’s well-earned reputation in the sporting arena and ensuring that the rights of our athletes are protected and that the principles of natural justice are respected.
“We remain willing to work with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Sport to further develop our sport and promote our country.”
The press release was issued by the NAAA secretariat.