Welcome back to WADAwatch... just one voice discussing the international regulatory agencies whose livelihoods derive from the valiant and strident efforts to reduce and / or eliminate the scurge of doping in Sport.
Our hiatus served to refresh the enthusiasm that has always been a bedrock of the WADAwatch credo. As readers can imagine (those whose memories exceed the average American's short span), the hiatus also has spanned this summer of 2010, which began with Floyd Landis' assortment of confessions, and comes towards winter with Jeff Novitzky entertaining zealous prosecutors from at least Italy, Belgium and France at Interpol HQ in Lyon, France.
Yet our opening 'Fall 2010' blog-post is to reflect on the new changes at CAS/ICAS, which announced last week the election of a new president: John Coates AC of Australia. WADAwatch hesitates to point out the obvious... yet it must be so. Did anyone know that Mr Coates was opposed by Dick Pound, former president of WADA, who ran his second campaign much farther below the radar-screen than his first attempt?
(photo credit 'sort of' to 'Moderately Left', an Australian political blog)
WADA is currently headed by an Australian: the Honourable John Fahey, a former Australian government minister. Now ICAS (the International Council of Arbitration for Sport) has elected its very own Australian to lead the Council that oversees CAS' operations.
Some WADAwatch followers remember our vehement outcry against the candidature of Dick Pound for that very post as ICAS President, when he first ran, loudly and boisterously, and lost: Mario Auletta became the new CAS President in April 2008:
Pound LOSES CAS presidency
Our fear of a Pound presidency was based on his public statements regarding CAS getting 'lost' in a sea of arbitration panels, as well as his rumoured involvement in the events (nebulous, ambiguous) surrounding the 2005 Lance Armstrong 'EPO case' promoted via the French newspaper L'Equipe. Auletta's election, and statuatory changes that were effected under his leadership (the 'conflict of interests' were eliminated: see "WADA" rule from CAS & ICAS...) have helped assure the Athletes whose cases come to this august body would, henceforth, suffer less from the 'revolving door' of Advocates who wore two hats, as Arbitrators or Advocates for either Athletes and International Federations.
Now who is John Coates?
The Olympic Movement, which states so often and so publicly how much it wants Sportsmen and Sportswomen to be 'healthy and pure', seems to have an incestuous (strong word?) reliance on internalizing campaigns to its prominent roles... First there was Dick Pound, who valiantly defended Ben Johnson before spearheading the investigation regarding the Salt Lake City Olympics bidding process. Pound then became the 'White Knight' who headed the movement that became the World Anti-Doping Agency.
And where was John Dowling Coates, while Pound was investigating Salt Lake's bidding shenanigans? According to the Wikipedia, Coates "played a key role in bringing the 2000 Olympics to Australia and in its delivery". Yet this story overlaps with Dick Pound's investigation of the Salt Lake City bid scandal, and wiki tells us that:
In January 1999 John Coates released documents revealing that he, and other officials, had been involved in extensive vote buying in 1993 to secure the Olympic Games for Sydney. He admitted that the night before Sydney won the 2000 Games, he offered more than $A50,000 each to the national Olympic committees of Kenya and Uganda and provided their delegates with expensive hotel accommodation in London and other gifts. Coates also organised a place for the daughter of the Swaziland IOC delegate at a Sydney tertiary education facility. African IOC delegates were also promised that sports training would be provided for African athletes at the Australian Institute for Sport in Canberra, if Sydney won.
Now humanity is known for errors, retributions and forgiveness (unless you're an Athlete who doped), and WADAwatch is not judging Mr Coates for admitting to zealousness in a system (then) which rewarded such behaviours.
We are, at WADAwatch, simply back to observe what happens to Athletes around the globe, who are bound to a system which affords ZERO tolerance, generally. And we are still (as an independent writer) bound to recall the immortal words expressed in the Quigley case:
The fight against doping is arduous, and it may require strict rules. But the rule-makers and the rule-appliers must begin by being strict with themselves. Regulations that may affect the careers of dedicated athletes must be predictable. They must emanate from duly authorized bodies. They must be adopted in constitutionally proper ways. They should not be the product of an obscure process of accretion. Athletes and officials should not be confronted with a thicket of mutually qualifying or even contradictory rules that can be understood only on the basis of the de facto practice over the course of many years of a small group of insiders.
(CAS 94/129, USA Shooting & Q./International Shooting Union (UIT), award of 23 May 1995, CAS Digest I, pp.197-198)
John Dowling Coates takes the reins of power at ICAS in January 2011. He is stepping up from Vice President to assure fairness and tranquillity in the halls of arbitration of Sport. He vanquished Dick Pound, from an undisclosed number of votes.
He will be able to continue policies that were promulgated under Mino Auletta, and perhaps one of his first tasks will be to voice an opinion on Jeff Novitzky's FDA investigation of Lance Armstrong. Much to unravel, as facts replace hyperbole and judicial opinions outweigh the Court of Public Opinion.
"Welcome aboard, Admiral Coates"... good luck .
copyright 2010 Ww