CAS set to decide medal fate of ParalympicsGB sailing team

Tuesday, 22 January 2013
By Tom Degun

Sonar teamJanuary 22 - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are set to decide in April whether Great Britain should win a London 2012 Paralympic sailing medal in the Sonar three-person keelboat class.

The ParalympicsGB Sonar team of John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel dropped from third to fifth place at the Paralympics after they were hit with a controversial penalty that cost them a bronze medal.

They were third after the penultimate race and in with a chance of moving up to second before the final race was cancelled due to a lack of wind and they subsequently learned they had been docked four points.

The discretionary penalty was imposed after team bosun Simon Hiscocks cleaned the port side of the keel after being authorised to lift the boat out of the water to inspect some damage.

According to the official ruling: "Once the bosun completed the repairs he began to wipe the whole keel including the port side.

"The measurer made three requests for the bosun to stop wiping the keel, but he kept wiping.

"After second request to stop, the measurer explained that he might have to make a report if he did not stop.

"The bosun replied, 'go ahead and make your report' and continued wiping."

However, in a statement, team leader Stephen Park described it as a "minor off-the-water transgression" and after a subsequent appeal was rejected the British Paralympic Association (BPA) revealed decided to take the issue to CAS.

The case is due to be heard in CAS in Lausanne on April 29 and 30 and has been bought forward as "British Paralympic Association v. International Association for Disabled Sailing & Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee."

The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee are involved as the Norwegian Sonar team of Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen won the bronze medal.

If CAS rules in favour of the BPA, they will be stripped of the bronze medal, which will be reallocated to Robertson, Thomas and Stodel.

Sonar team 2The ParalympicsGB Sonar team of John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel will be hoping they are awarded a Paralympic bronze medal by CAS in April

"The BPA can confirm that the CAS hearing relates to the appeal lodged by the BPA during the Paralympic Games on behalf of the British Sonar team," said a BPA statement to insidethegames.

"The BPA will not comment further until the conclusion of the legal process."

If the appeal is successful, all three of the ParalympicsGB sailing teams would have won a medal at London 2012 after Helena Lucas took gold in the 2.4mR class and Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell bronze in the Skud.

But Stodel admits the team now face an anxious wait.

"We believe we won the bronze on the water fair and square but obviously events outside our control have meant we haven't got it," she told BBC Essex.

"The Games is over, we've had the Closing Ceremony, but it's not over.

"We're in limbo, we're waiting to find out whether we've got the medal that we won on the water."

The trio of Robertson, Thomas and Stodel finished sixth at the Athens 2004 and Beijing Paralympics 2008 meaning a victory in CAS would finally see them achieve a Paralympic medal in their third attempt.

Contact the writer of this story at tom.degun@insidethegames.biz
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