Last update: 09-Dec-2013 11:04 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Roberts: NAAA hiding information
An attempt by the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) to prevent the disclosure of information regarding Semoy Hackett’s withdrawal from last month’s IAAF World Championship in Moscow, Russia, has left Minister of Sport Anil Roberts seek to legal counsel on the matter.
Roberts, who addressed the media at the Ministry of Sport, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, said the NAAA was trying its best to prevent the public and the Ministry from details as to why Hackett was allowed to travel to the World event, which she subsequently withdrew from.
A written exchange between two parties, the NAAA and the IAAF, which was revealed verbally to the media by Roberts, led him to believe that the NAAA was attempting to claim Government interference in its affairs, following a meeting between the Ministry of Sport and the local governing body for athletics.
Hackett tested positive for banned substances both in 2011 and last year. She stopped receiving funds from the Elite Athletes Assistance Programme and was twice banned by the NAAA.
She was also banned by her University after she returned a positive test at the 2012 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Iowa, United States.
The NAAA’s disciplinary panel later lifted the ban to allow her to perform at the World Championship.
The Ministry met with the NAAA to discuss Hackett’s trip to Moscow, and was told by the NAAA that the IAAF instructed that Hackett was allowed to participate.
However, according to Roberts, only after being pressed toward the end of the meeting by the Sport Ministry’s permanent secretary Ashwin Creed, chairman of the NAAA’s disciplinary panel George Commissiong, admitted that the same letter recommended that Hackett not run.
“A letter that was sent to the NAAA, advising them that even though their disciplinary panel has decided to lift the ban, and, therefore, Semoy Hackett can legitimately run, they recommend that she does not run,” Roberts said.
The letter, which Commissiong spoke of was never provided to the minister despite his requests.
The NAAA subsequently wrote to the IAAF indicating the minister’s request for information of the IAAF’s position on Hackett, written in the letter.
Minister Roberts said the IAAF replied, “It is unclear to us on what basis is the Minister of Sport intervening in this stage of the case.
In any event, we would respectfully advise to limit the disclosure of documents related to this case until its conclusion by the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport).”
Roberts added, “And, today, I am sorry that we cannot continue to discuss the issue because the NAAA for some inexplicable reason, wrote to a member of the IAAF medical arm, not the legal arm, stating that the Minister is interested in information... ‘Should they provide the information?’
And the IAAF said, ‘do not provide any information to the Minister, because it is sub judice.’”
He added, “That does not form, in my opinion, a substantive matter of evidence before any Court of Arbitration.” In that regard, Roberts said he will seek legal counsel.
“Why is the NAAA trying to hide this letter? Why are they purporting to ensure that the population does not find out what has happened?”
Roberts recognised that the NAAA was an autonomous body, but said it receives 70-80 per cent of its budget from the Government, and should answer to the taxpayers.
“The Ministry pays for everybody to attend the Moscow World Championship, the athletes who perform and do not test positive, the Ministry through the NAAA, will receive a refund based on their clean performance. Seeing that Semoy Hackett did not perform and left, the IAAF will not refund the NAAA. Therefore, the taxpayers have paid for a cheater to go to the World Championship. And, therefore, the Government is very much involved,” said Roberts.
“They (NAAA) state orally that they have a zero tolerance position (on doping), but their actions at every junction try to limit information, try to hide information, they have try to assuage the minds of the population by misinformation, poor analysis and dissemination of facts that are not all toward correct and that is very worrying.
And, I call on the membership of the NAAA to call a meeting and get to the bottom of this.”
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