News 4 May 2016

Analysis: Thema Williams to take selection dispute to CAS

Gymnast Thema Williams is preparing to appeal the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee’s (TTOC) decision to support the Trinidad & Tobago Gymnastic Federation’s (TTGF) last-minute change to replace her as its sole athlete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. On 2 May, the TTOC said that following a statement by the Fédération Internationale Gymnastique (FIG), it had to support the TTGF’s nomination of Williams’ replacement, Marisa Dick. “The (TTOC) Olympic Games Management Committee have therefore ruled that the TTOC has no choice but to include Marisa Dick in the Team TTO Rio 2016 declaration”, TTOC President Brian Lewis told Newsday.

Although the FIG’s 30 April statement (see below) said the final decision rested with the TTOC, it added that the TTOC must confirm the selection of Dick by 9 May, otherwise her place would be reallocated to the athlete with the next best score. ‘This place must be confirmed by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee as soon as possible, but no later than 9 May 2016’, it read. ‘Failure to do so will result in the automatic invitation of the next best ranked All-Around athlete from the qualifying event in Rio (1st reserve). Since the qualification place earned by Marisa Dick is nominative, no name change or replacement is possible.’


Dr. Emir Crowne, who represents Williams, said that as the TTOC couldn’t support her, then they would take the case to the CAS. “CAS has exclusive jurisdiction of any dispute arising from or in connection with the Olympics”, he told the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian. “We can take the situation directly to CAS”.

The TTOC also said that it would be investigating whether the TTGF had broken any rules due to issues with the selection process, highlighted by the Sports Integrity Initiative last month. “The TTOC has considered issues surrounding the process and will be invoking its authority under clause 13 of its Constitution to determine whether the TTGF has infringed the TTOC constitution, the Olympic Charter and the International Olympic Committee [IOC] Code of Ethics in respect of their duties to be fair”, Lewis told Newsday.

The situation could prove embarrassing for the TTOC, as the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) recently signed up to become a member of the Sports Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA), launched by the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) in April. Its Core Principles outline that organisations under its stewardship must adhere to a number of good governance standards.

The ICSS said that it would consider the situation as part of work it is already taking to support the TTOC. “As a new member to SIGA, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee has  also recently signed an agreement with ICSS Europe that will include an independent audit of the TTOC’s overall governance model and will also assist with the development of a code of conduct on sports betting integrity for its members”, said a spokesperson. “As part of this agreement and in accordance the TTOC’s forthcoming Good Governance Code for Sport, the ICSS will consider this matter as part of the work to support the TTOC and the SIGA platform”.

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