Monday, August 1, 2011

FINA Executive Director: If You Test Positive, Hire A Good Lawyer

In criticizing the large range of sanctions for certain types of positive tests [see], FINA's Executive Director (unintentionally) provides advice that is not always followed by athletes and their agents - hire a good lawyer:

“You are in a civil court, you have a good lawyer, you have a good argument, that influences the panel. The range is too huge. I think it’s too much ... Today the new [WADA] code is like going to the civil court: you have a good lawyer and you are out. You have a bad lawyer, you are in.”

I disagree with the sentiment expressed here regarding the wide sanction ranges in certain cases under the World Anti-Doping Code: they should properly be viewed as providing arbitrators with the latitude to distinguish between cases of intentional doping and cases of inadvertence (as was the case for swimmer Cesar Cielo, among others), which is a good thing. Of course, this wide discretion means that the athlete's lawyer has to be even more persuasive and convincing, in cases of inadvertence.

Of course, I do agree with the unintended message that is conveyed in the linked article quoted above: if you test positive, and your career is on the line, then having the best athlete's lawyer on your side seems like an easy decision to make.