Doping Case Costs
The BBC reports that the Irish Sports Council has agreed to pay the court costs of Gareth Turnbull, who reportedly spent 100,000 pounds to successfully defend himself against a doping charge. (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/6479643.stm). The ISC also plans to review its rules dealing with payment of costs for athletes who are successful in disproving doping charges. I think this is good, but what really astounded me was how much it costs for an athlete to mount a defense in these cases. When you compare that figure with the annual income of your average elite athlete, it is a bit depressing. At those prices, even the innocent might have to think twice about mounting a defense, because the bill could be huge if they aren't successful. Does anyone know if USATF has similar reimbursement procedures?
Paddy Turnbull, Gareth's father, said that it is his understanding that the Irish Sports Council intends to use the Canadian (CCES) rules that do stipulate recovery of costs in a doping case, as the model for drafting of their rules on the subject.
Many contracts I have signed dictate that disputes between publisher and author be settled by the American Arbitration Association. Obviously this wouldn't work in an international case, but the AAA or some similar impartial body would be both quicker and less costly. I wrote an article some years back for a business publication on the subject.
The other point that might be made, Jim, is that if you have $100,000 you may be able to buy yourself justice whether or not you deserve it. As you know, there are many loopholes in drug testing as it is conducted today. Look at the Floyd Landis case.
There is often the misconception that money buys a good outcome. Both sides in these proceedings spend lots to present their cases. The Turnbull case was interesting in that a full reading of the transcripts reveals a case that was tried mainly on the facts. There wasn't a lot of questionable "expert" witnesses or dubious testimony. But it also demonstrated that if you don't have credible individuals willing to examine the evidence, you may be innocent but can't prove it. One problem with the adjudication process--the same with the US criminal justice system--is that the quality of the prosecution and/or defense can have a lot to do with the outcome of the verdict. $100,000 is not a lot for a court case. Wouldn't be surprised if the other side in this case did not spend more. The Turnbull case and the Landis case are quite different, although they do involve the same offense--a violation alleging the use of testosterone. Interestingly both athletes have opened up the proceedings by presenting transcripts and/or copies of the documents used to make the case. Landis is still in process and so we don't have both sides of the story yet, but he has raised issues about chain of custody and issues that are not loopholes, they are critical to the proper operation of the process. What is illustrated by these cases is the fact that all of these hearings should be open and transparent, same as civil court cases. Examine the evidence presented. Then you'd see if there are, in fact, loopholes being exploited. If the process favors one side or the other. If there are problems with certain tests. If athletes are using clever representation to "game" the system. Or if either side is winning or losing cases because of the quality of their representation, rather than the strength of the cases presented. Right now there is much speculation, rumors, "spinning" of information and finger pointing, but not enough scrutiny of details of the process. No human system is perfect, but they need to be open for examination to reveal the shortcomings, if they are there, so that they can be fixed. Without that you have a system that is perceived as flawed, damage, and/or corrupt. This sort of a system serves no one. It merely compounds the problem because we must be able to trust that, in the end, justice will prevail.