'Accountability will remain!' - Williams rubbishes claims of lack of transparency in future JADCO closed door anti-doping hearings
Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) chairman Alexander Williams said that he is "amazed" at the position held by some persons that transparency and accountability will be compromised in future anti-doping hearings, which will now all be held behind closed doors.
"Are we saying that when a court hears a matter in camera, meaning it's not public, is that the court is not transparent," Williams asked. "When you have a rape or sexual offence case, if it is held outside of the public lair to protect witnesses, are they lacking transparency? I would say no. The issue of transparency does not depend on there being a public hearing."
However, Former JADCO executive director Renee Anne Shirley said she disagrees with the body's decision.
She was responding, on Twitter, to a letter to the editor published in The Sunday Gleaner yesterday, saying that transparent hearings should be JADCO's default.
"I have seen the usefulness of public hearing when an eliteath (elite athlete) took OTC (over the counter) cold medication to clear stuffy nose (which is not Prohibited out-of-comp) & small traces of PED (performance enhancing drugs) in med (medication) showed up in his sample taken next day after a race...UTech expert testimony helped explain this @ (at) hearing...," Shirley tweeted.
Shirley was explaining that many members of the public are unable to put verdicts into context unless they get an explanation of the reasons they were reached.
Williams said that Jamaican athletes would actually be put at a disadvantage in open hearing settings, when other athletes in similar situations around the world have more privacy. He also responded to sports attorney Emir Crowne's comments in last Friday's Gleaner publication, that Jamaica was "ahead of its time" in having open hearing sessions, as most other countries do not.
"Jamaicans didn't have the advantage because we conducted our hearings in public," he said. "It was because of the inspections which took place with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and they saw that our procedures were in the main, in line with their rules. They have done their investigations and have not found JADCO to be wanting."
TRANSPARENCY WILL REMAIN
But he said that there is actually no issue of transparency as the media will still be able to get information on hearings. However, it will have to be after each session, rather than being let into the sessions to transcribe and record the events.
"The public will have transparency," he said. "The media will still cover these things. They will still go and ask questions of persons who exit the hearings. Given that they don't act in certain parameters, they can speak to the press. That will continue and JADCO will still publish, as we're required to do, the results of these hearings."
Attorney Patrick Foster said that he has no issue with this, as long as panel members spend the time explaining to the media the reasons for decisions reached, much like Shirley wants.
"When the decision is handed down, the panel members should give complete and full reasons to justify the decision they have made, so that members of the media, and the public would be aware of the circumstances of each decision made by the panel. It's important," Foster said.
Foster was the legal representative of Windies cricketer Andre Russell, during his whereabouts violation hearing brought about by JADCO in 2016.