Exclusive: Defiant Moynihan says athletes will always defend BOA position

Sunday, 11 March 2012
By Mike Rowbottom at Eton Dorney

Colin Moynihan_at_BOA_Briefing_London_Stock_Exchange_February_27_2012March 11 - Colin Moynihan (pictured), chairman of the British Olympic Association (BOA), believes that even if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules against the byelaw which currently allows his organisation not to select serious doping offenders for any Games, the BOA position will be regained.

Speaking on the eve of the BOA's appeal to CAS challenging the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) recent declaration that it is "noncompliant" with global doping policy, Moynihan told insidethegames that ground occupied by the BOA since 1992 would be regained, even if it lost this latest battle.

"I believe it will, and the only reason I believe that is not because of Colin Moynihan, it is because of the views of the athletes.

"I'm not talking just about British athletes here, I am talking about athletes across the world.

"They are looking to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the the Olympic family, to deliver a clean Games.

"They don't want competition between chemists and laboratories, they don't want kids dying because they are taking a whole cocktail of drugs.

"They want a clean Games.

"Britain went to Atlanta [in 1996] and got one gold, and we've come fourth in the medals table at Beijing 12 years later, with 19 golds, and we did that clean.

"There is nobody who questions for a moment the British squad, and the tough line we have taken, and that has meant that the message to any athlete in this country is that you are simply not going to get there unless you are clean.

"We have set a very clear example through the last 20 years when we have had our byelaw that we only going to select clean athletes, and if we do they can win.

"You don't have to be on drugs to win.

"And that is the message from Atlanta to Beijing – the A to B.

"That's the background to our byelaw.

"So that is why I am confident.

I think when I and others have moved on, this campaign will still continue."

Moynihan, who has worked closely on the BOA legal position with David Pannick QC, who will be the organisation's advocate on Monday.

He believes the BOA is entitled to select its competitors in just the same way that Sir Alex Ferguson can select his players.

"That autonomy is the same as Sir Alex Ferguson's when it comes to choosing his Manchester United team on a Saturday," he added.

"And we will fiercely protect the right to select those that we believe are best capable of representing Team GB at the Olympic Games, where Olympic values are important.

"If somebody is match fixing, I don't mind how good an athlete they are, the BOA must have the right to decide not to select that athlete.

"And if they have knowingly taken drugs to cheat a clean athlete the BOA should have the right to say they should never represent Team GB in the Olympic Games.

"Separate from this case, that is a point that sport has to address.

"The 204 National Olympic Committees should have the right to select the athletes they wish to select."

And whatever the decision of the three-man CAS panel, Moynihan – who was at Eton Dorney to watch the final GB rowing trials – made it clear that the BOA would be turning its attention in a major way to instigating changes in the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

"When, effectively, the maximum sentence is two years for the most serious doping cheats, then these are dark days for sports administration," he said.

"After this is all over, we will campaign to change the WADA code. 

"The WADA code is currently under revision and as it happens on Wednesday is the deadline for first submissions to change the WADA code.

"I think WADA is in need of fundamental reform across a whole range of issues.

"I think two years for a serious doping offence, the same sanction for someone who has mistakenly got clenbuterol in their system in a steak they have eaten, is fundamentally wrong.

"I think it is wrong that so many clean athletes in this country and internationally are operating under a compliance regime where they feel guilty before they are proved innocent.

"The whereabouts tests and overall approach to testing is so rigorous that on many occasions genuinely clean athletes feel that the system is pointing the finger at them as guilty and they have to continuously prove their innocence.

"I think WADA has clearly failed on a number of accounts and I'll give you one.

"Virtually all the serious drug cheats have been caught by law enforcement officers, not by WADA.

"If you look at Marion Jones in athletics, she wasn't found out by WADA, she was found out by law enforcement officers investigating BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative).

Dwain Chambers_Istanbul_March_10_2012
"If you look at the cyclists who have been caught, again it is law enforcement officers.

"As it was with Dwain Chambers (pictured above centre).

"Not WADA.

"David Millar (pictured below) – EPO (Erythropoietin) – law enforcement officers, not WADA.

"So – hang on a minute, why are WADA not delivering?

"We need to review that and look at ways in which we could improve WADA and also reflect the wishes of the athletes.

"When we appear before CAS, we are the voices of the athletes.

"And the athletes keep saying: 'We want a clean Games, so please BOA, please IOC, work to make sure than anybody who is a serious doping cheat and who is willing to hide for as long as they can the benefits of performance-enhancing drugs to deny clean athletes the right to be selected, please IOC don't give them a platform at the Olympic Games.

'And certainly not after a two-year ban.'

"But the CAS case is nothing to do with that.

"The CAS case is about the right to select clean athletes for a clean Games, and the autonomy of the NOCs [National Olympic Committees] is supported by the IOC, is supported by athletes, is supported by the IOC Athletes Commission unanimously, is supported by the European Olympic Athletes Commission and by the British public.

"And they are right."

David Millar_11_March
On the subject of whether athletes who have served serious doping bans, such as Chambers and Millar, had the right of "redemption", he added: "I'm really disappointed they made the decisions they did to take drugs – they knew the consequences.

"Secondly, both of them have campaigned strongly now against drugs in sport.

"But they have campaigned in full knowledge that our selection policy has not changed.

"And the third point is that those who argue there should be redemption for the most serious of drug cheats should pause and reflect that there is no redemption for the clean athletes who have never put on the Olympic kit because there are cheats out there who want to be selected and have knowingly taken those drugs to deny clean athletes the right of selection.

"There's no redemption for those clean athletes.

"And that is a really important point.

"But I have said all along that should the CAS panel find against us then anyone who is selected, such as Dwain or David, will be a full member of the British team and will receive full support."

Contact the writer of this story at mike.rowbottom@insidethegames.biz


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