Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Letter of the Day | Private JADCO hearings strike right balance

Published:Saturday | August 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I note the article ('Accountability and transparency') appearing in your newspaper on Thursday, August 9, 2018, by Rachid Parchment regarding the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission's (JADCO) move to have closed-door anti-doping hearings.

I welcome the decision of JADCO to follow global standards by having anti-doping hearings in private. These lengthy hearings are sometimes gruelling and an athlete is often subject to rigorous cross, examination in order to determine whether he/she has committed a breach of the anti-doping rules. Having such a hearing done in the public domain, even the athlete who has been found not guilty invariably leaves an athlete with taint on his/her reputation in the minds of some members of the public.

It is no surprise that the global trend is to have the hearings in private, but this does not ignore the public interest at stake as the decision and any evidence, upon which it is based, are then made public, whether the athlete is found guilty or not guilty.

 

No need for parallels

 

I would not draw a parallel between anti-doping hearings and the courts, as has been done, especially the criminal courts, where the Constitution requires that they be tried in public, in most cases (an exception to this rule is an 'in camera' trial). A more appropriate comparison is between professional bodies that hear cases of alleged misconduct and members of the profession that fall within the jurisdiction of that body.

Lawyers have a disciplinary committee within the General Legal Council. Medical doctors have the Medical Council. And, I believe, land surveyors have a similar body to hear cases of misconduct.

These cases are heard in private, but the basis for such decisions are made available to the public. That, in my view, balances the right of the party against whom a complaint of misconduct has been made to protect his reputation in the event he is vindicated and the right of the public to know about the relevant details relating to the decision.

Such a process is fair and facilitates transparency in a manner that balances the interest of all the stakeholders, including members of the public.

That is why the global trend in anti-doping hearings has gone in that direction and Jamaica should not be seen to be lagging behind in that race towards equity and fairness.

PATRICK W. FOSTER, QC

Attorney-at-Law

pfoster@nsdco.com