Olympic relay gold medallist Michael Frater said it hurt him badly that he had to give up the gold medal he won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics because of a teammate was determined to have been taking a prohibited substance.

Lawyers representing William Wallace and the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) were today granted permission to serve documents o FIFA pertaining to their case against them to be heard in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has thrown out the appeal of Grenadian quarter-miler Bralon Taplin’s against a four-year ban for intentionally avoiding a drug test in April 2019. The athlete will now serve a ban set to end in September 2023, when he will be 32 years old.

Taplin, 28, who was seventh in the 400m final in Rio, four years ago, was sanctioned by the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization in November 2019 for avoiding a drugs test.

The sanction stemmed from an incident at the Grenada Invitational on April 13, 2019, when Taplin won the 400m at the Grenada Invitational.

Following the race, Taplin left the stadium without completing doping control even doping control officers had informed him that he was to undergo a drug test. Reports said he left the island early the following day.

According to a summary released by the CAS, Taplin was notified on August 20, 2019, that he was being charged with intentionally evading sample collection on at the 2019 Grenada Invitational.

Following an investigation, the Caribbean RADO Panel issued its decision on November 8, 2019, in which it found, “to its comfortable satisfaction”, that Taplin sought to evade the chaperone and doping control officers and that he was guilty of the offence of evading sample collection.

He was banned for four years.

However, in his appeal to the CAS, Taplin requested that the decision be set aside and that he be declared immediately eligible to compete on the grounds that he had not been properly notified that he had been selected for the doping control test.

The CAS arbitration was conducted by Canadian The Honourable Hugh L. Fraser, who held the hearing at the offices of the Grenada Olympic Committee on February 27 and 28, 2020.

The sole arbitrator found that Taplin’s evidence that he was never approached, followed, or accompanied by anyone from the Grenada NADO to be implausible.

The arbitrator stated that he was comfortably satisfied that Taplin was guilty of the offence of evading sample collection and confirmed the four-year period of ineligibility, which commenced on September 25, 2019, the date on which the provisional suspension began.

 

Citing concern over the perception of bias in favour of FIFA, William Wallace and his ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have withdrawn their appeal currently before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Describing the situation as a fight against injustice, Wallace said they will now take the dispute to the Trinidad and Tobago High Court.

Lawyers representing the ousted executive filed their notice of withdrawal to CAS on Monday.

Wallace was seeking CAS to overturn a decision by FIFA to appoint a normalization committee to oversee the running of the association until new elections can be held.

Wallace and his executive were constitutionally elected in November 2019, but FIFA, citing the lack of proper financial controls within the heavily indebted association, took the decision to intervene four months after the elections were held.

This, despite the fact that the bulk of the debt was accumulated under the previous administration led by David John-Williams.

However, in light of recent developments at CAS, the ousted executive feel they would be unable to get a fair shake before CAS.

“Indeed, the CAS cannot be said to be a free, fair and impartial forum if sporting bodies like the Respondent, with deep pockets and even deeper agendas, can unilaterally seek to impose the CAS as a forum for the resolution of disputes while simultaneously – and quite unconscionably – refusing to pay its share of the arbitration costs. Arbitration costs which are themselves disproportionately high to the ordinary litigant,” the lawyers said.

“In sum, the CAS has demonstrated that it not a proper forum for the adjudication of this matter. It has demonstrated apparent institutional bias in the familiarity and latitude shown to the Respondent.

Our clients have therefore instructed us to withdraw the appeal with immediate effect.”

In early May, the lawyers wrote to CAS expressing concerns over hiked costs - US$41,000 - that Wallace and his executive were being compelled to pay in advance of the tribunal hearing while at the same time declaring that FIFA will not pay arbitration costs in advance in matters such as these.

The costs were especially high, considering that the hearing would have likely taken place by video conference thus eliminating usual travel costs of the panel and the CAS’ counsel.

“To that end, we are genuinely unsure how the CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees. The Appellants are not from the developed world, nor are they as well-financed as the Respondent,” Dr Emir Crowne wrote to CAS.

The lawyers also argued that the matter was made even more alarming since the tribunal accepted without question FIFA’s submission that they wanted the matter heard by three arbitrators, thus tripling the associated costs.

“On its face, therefore, the CAS appears to be a willing participant in the Respondent’s gamesmanship, especially if the CAS had institutional knowledge that the Respondent – an entity with immeasurable financial resources – would not be advancing their share of the arbitration costs,” the lawyers said.

CAS’ subsequent response further rankled the lawyers while cementing their fears that they would not be able to have a fair hearing.

“Your response further solidified our clients’ concerns about the apparent institutional bias of the CAS,” said the lawyers in their letter to CAS on Monday.

They made reference to correspondence from CAS that said, “The Respondent is, however, invited to inform the CAS Court Office by 11 May 2020 whether it intends to pay its share of the advance of costs in this specific procedure. In case the Respondent refuses to pay such share, Article R64.2 of the Code shall apply and the CAS Finance Director's letter dated April 30, 2020, will be fully confirmed.”

FIFA, they said, then promptly informed the CAS on May 11, 2020, that it “will not pay its share of the advance of costs in this specific procedure.”

“If the CAS had genuinely rejected our clients’ concern of apparent institutional bias, it is unclear why the CAS would – subsequent to our letter – extend such an invitation to the Respondent at all.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)  led by William Wallace have written to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) expressing concern over what they have described as a “number of irregularities which have arisen, irregularities that have caused their clients to believe their right to a fair hearing has been impugned.”

Wallace and his executive have taken FIFA to CAS over the latter’s decision to appoint a normalization committee to oversee the running of the TTFA, which in effect sidelined the Wallace-led executive that was constitutionally elected in November 2009.

Among the concerns to which the lawyers - Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle - refer arose from correspondence from CAS in which it mentioned hiked costs Wallace and his executive are being compelled to pay in advance of the tribunal hearing while at the same time declaring that FIFA will not pay arbitration costs in advance in matters such as these.

The costs mentioned amount to 40,000 Swiss Francs or approximately US$41,000, which the Wallace-led executive, the Appellants, must pay in full. The lawyers said that they are unsure how CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees.

According to the correspondence obtained by Sportsmax.TV, CAS indicated that “as a general rule, FIFA does not pay any arbitration costs in advance when it acts as a Respondent in a procedure before CAS, which is admissible to CAS pursuant to Article R64.2 of the Code. This means that, according to the same provision of the Code, the Appellant has to pay the entirety of the advance of costs.”

In response, Dr Emir Crowne penned a letter to CAS on Thursday, May 7, arguing that the costs are unfair “…particularly since the hearing would have likely taken place by video conference and the usual travel costs of the panel and the CAS’ counsel would have been eliminated.

“To that end, we are genuinely unsure how the CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees. The Appellants are not from the developed world, nor are they as well-financed as the Respondent.”

The lawyers also argue that the matter is made even more alarming since the tribunal accepted without question FIFA’s submission that they wanted the matter heard by three arbitrators, thus tripling the associated costs.

“On its face, therefore, the CAS appears to be a willing participant in the Respondent’s gamesmanship, especially if the CAS had institutional knowledge that the Respondent – an entity with immeasurable financial resources – would not be advancing their share of the arbitration costs,” the lawyers said.

“This is at least an unacceptable display of apparent institutional bias.”

In light of the development, the lawyers revealed that FIFA subsequently issued a letter to the CAS indicating that they (CAS) must suspend FIFA’s response to the Appellants until the Appellants pay the full costs. CAS, they said, has agreed that FIFA should be able to benefit from the extension.

“As it stands, there are very real doubts that the CAS remains an appropriate and fair forum for the resolution of this dispute,” the lawyers concluded.

 

 

 

 

FIFA’s latest football rankings published this week listed the Caribbean powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago at 105th in the world, their second-lowest in history.

A Normalization Committee appointed by FIFA is charged with sorting out dire financial and administrative affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA) but will the virus that has seen the regional giants plummet to their lowest levels all-time be tackled as well in this process?

The eight-time Caribbean Football Union (CFU) champions have now spent a 10th consecutive month outside the world’s top-100.

The last time T&T’s Soca Warriors were the top-rated Caribbean team on the FIFA Coca-Cola Rankings was October 2016. From 65th in the world three and a half years ago, they have steadily plunged to embarrassing levels, not good enough for a football programme that had long been regarded as the best in the Caribbean.

Absorbed in a political football power war in the past year that included acrimonious election campaigning and subsequent unseating of David John-Williams (DJW) as President, T&T’s football results have been ghastly.

The Coronavirus has dismantled all sporting schedules globally and maybe it’s a good thing for T&T’s football since the inactivity may have eased their fans from some more painful match results.

Former England international and 1986 World Cup defender Terry Fenwick is the new head coach, replacing Dennis Lawrence and the straight-talking ex-defender’s job is likely to be negatively impacted by the current administrative turmoil.

Indeed, there are already media reports of heated exchanges Fenwick has had with the Technical team over dissatisfaction with efforts to sort out passports for foreign-born players being targeted for T&T representation.

T&T’s football fraternity is divided over FIFA’s intervention that sidelined last November’s elected executive, whose attorneys Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne have now gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in an effort to annul FIFA’s intervention.

FIFA’s track record globally clearly indicates they are powerful enough and have the right to intervene in any of its 211 affiliates’ administrative affairs if they are deemed not to be following the FIFA Statutes -- rules and regulations – that they themselves have signed to.

Opponents of the FIFA intervention in T&T reason that it was indecently done, given the fact the new executive had only been in place for three months, trying to tackle massive financial problems that were largely inherited.

The fact that serious financial problems existed when John-Williams was boss and FIFA did not intervene, begs the question why didn’t they at the time? The answer is fairly obvious. John-Williams has a good relationship with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and profited from FIFA’s support and understanding.

Days ahead of the November 24, 2019 TTFA elections, Infantino attended the glitzy opening of John-Williams’s biggest project, the “Home of Football” in Couva and he praised DJW as a leader displaying “wisdom and vision” with the project the FIFA President said represented “an investment in the future”.

Unruffled that T&T were just coming off setting all-time records for longest losing streak, winless streak and run of games without scoring, Infantino downplayed results in a SportsMax interview with George Davis, declaring firmly that when there is a heavy investment in stability with an eye for future development it was wrong to make a “sporting result (loss)” become a “tragedy” or a “catastrophe”.

Asserting obvious support for DJW’s team ahead of the TTFA Elections, Infantino defended the Home of Football investment as a building tool for the country’s football. “You need to build, you need to be stable … and that’s exactly what has been done and then the results will come because of the seriousness of the investment. We have now a solid foundation in this so that football can grow and be built and I am sure this will happen in the future with John-Williams,” Infantino said.

Infantino’s “future with John-Williams” narrative was ruined by DJW’s 26-20 loss to William Wallace’s men at the TTFA polls and I suspect that as far as FIFA is concerned, the wrong men are in charge.

A FIFA/CONCACAF audited study of the TTFA’s Finances in February apparently triggered the move to step in and remove the elected officials even though General Secretary Ramesh Ramdhan had reported to local media then that the mission was favourable and that FIFA were on their side.  

Leadership of major sporting organisations has long been about politics and power and football presidency at the global and confederation levels perfectly illustrate this.

I attended a few Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress sessions that were open to the media during Jack Warner’s reign and saw the God-like sway he held over his subjects as a FIFA Vice-President and the CONCACAF Chief.

With that power, also came freedom to make unobstructed decisions, especially in a FIFA culture fashioned by Joao Havelange that while financially flourishing always had integrity question marks.

Brazilian Havelange, widely considered Warner’s mentor, enjoyed a 24-year reign -- before Sepp Blatter took over in 1998 – that boasted exponential football growth while never entertaining opposition. History shows you don’t fight FIFA and win so the odds are heavily against the relegated TTFA executive challenging this move by FIFA.

In the meantime, T&T’s football fans deserve more from their national team. Their October 2010 ranking of 106th in a brief sojourn outside FIFA’s top-100 almost 10 years ago, is the only ever weaker ranking position than they have now. Heading for a whole year outside FIFA’s top-100 as they are now, is unheard of in T&T’s glamorous football history.

How and when will the turnaround happen? Fenwick did not make it as a manager in his native England, but has had success in T&T, copping Pro League titles with Central FC (twice) and San Juan Jabloteh. He knows the T&T landscape well enough but appears short on the kind of talent that has propelled T&T’s International programme in the past.

Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad, Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano along with the yet-to-be-named others on a five-member panel will have a tough job resuscitating T&T’s football, especially in this contentious climate fraught with bitterness and legal dispute.

Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle, the lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have proposed that Mark Hovell, a solicitor from Manchester, England, be the sole arbitrator in their case against football’s world governing body FIFA.

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association have filed papers before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) seeking to set aside FIFA’s decision to appoint a normalization committee to oversee the running of the association.

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