T&T leading women's athlete, Michelle-Lee Ahye, may profit from the Olympic Games being postponed to next year.
The national sprint champion is currently appealing a two-year ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), with the assistance of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) through T&T lawyer Dave Williams at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland.
Williams, who has a great record in matters such as these, spoke to host Andre Errol Baptiste on I95.5fm's Thursday Isports programme on the status and the impact of the change in the date of the Olympic Games to July next year.
“Michelle’s ban started on April 19, 2019 and it is a two-year ban, as a consequence it is expected to end on April 19, 2021,” confirmed Williams.
The national sprinter was been banned for two years by the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal. The ban which was announced by the Athletes Integrity Unit on January 14, meant that Ahye would not have been able to compete at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
The ban took effect from April 19 last year and was issued against Ahye for missing three drug tests within a 12-month period according to IAAF regulations. She was found guilty of "whereabouts failures" according to the IAAF’s Anti-Doping Rules for missing three drug tests on June 23, 2018, February 23, 2019 and April 19, 2019.
With the Tokyo Olympics now postponed to July 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams explained the implications of such and whether it means that Ahye will be available to represent T&T.
"Yes, on a technicality yes, she is available. There is no precedent in place that would prevent her from participating once she qualifies, in the July 2021 Olympics,” said Williams, who on whether the current appeal on her behalf before CAS should be pulled, added that the period of ineligibility is not the only grounds that the TTOC is appealing.
"Michelle would have in fact suffered as a result of the order issued by the Tribunal, the medals, the titles and awards that she would have received during the period (April to August, 2019), as a result of the Tribunal’s ruling, she would no longer be entitled to such, as a matter of fact, the order goes on to say that Michele’s result from April 2019 shall be disqualified with all resulting consequences including the forfeiture of any titles or awards, medals, points so we are appealing that as well. So not withstanding the fact that yes she has benefitted as a consequence of COVID-19, there are still issues that we would like to have reversed in Michelle’s favour.
“We have lodged our appeal, the respondent has since submitted their response to our appeal and it is up to CAS now, both parties have in fact made their relevant submissions to CAS, so the matter is now being deliberated on by CAS."
Williams though could not confirm a date for a judgment from CAS saying, "I am not aware of any particular date, that a ruling would be made, as any matter before the court, it goes on the basis of priority so our matter certainly would have been priorities and it would have to be viewed in the context of that. I would have written CAS, seeking an expeditious hearing, however, they indicated that it would have to be in keeping the status of listed matters. But that was actually not accepted so to speak.”
The good news is that the current ban cannot be extended no matter the verdict of CAS.
”Certainly not because the standard sanction for the violation that Michele would have been held culpable for is actually two years and as for training, certainly she can because the order did not prevent her from doing that,” said Williams.
Perhaps, there is some light at the end of the tunnel from the Olympics postponement for Ahye, who may yet again be in the national colours at Tokyo 2021.