David Owen

Not all time is of equal value; this can - or should - have a bearing on the administration of justice.

The reason for bringing this up now is the case of Paolo Guerrero, the Peruvian footballer who stands to miss his country's first appearance at a World Cup since the end of the Teófilo Cubillas era in 1982, for drinking the wrong sort of tea.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) media release, put out this week, is clear about this.

It says: "The FIFA [Appeal Committee] had considered that Mr Guerrero had been able to establish that the adverse analytical finding had been caused by the ingestion of a tea containing the prohibited substance [benzoylecgonine metabolites].

"The FIFA AC decided that the player bore some degree of fault or negligence (although not significant) in committing the anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) and therefore that a proportionate period of ineligibility had to be imposed.

"Taking into account the circumstances of the case, the FIFA AC imposed a six-month period of ineligibility on the player, instead of the one-year minimum suspension provided by the FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations, applicable in case of no significant fault or negligence."

Paolo Guerrero of Peru will miss the FIFA World Cup in Russia ©Getty Images
Paolo Guerrero of Peru will miss the FIFA World Cup in Russia ©Getty Images

CAS has now decided in its wisdom to extend Guerrero's ban to 14 months, even though it accepted the player "did not attempt to enhance his performance by ingesting the prohibited substance".

It noted that "in case of no significant fault or negligence, the sanction should, in accordance with the applicable FIFA rules, be in the range of one to two years of suspension".

It is to Guerrero's considerable misfortune that this extended ban coincides with the most significant month in his country's footballing history for well over three decades.

Surely, the common-sense solution is for once obvious: Guerrrero should be permitted to serve the balance of his ban once Peru's World Cup campaign has ended.

The country's prospective World Cup opponents should sign a statement making it clear that they will not take legal action if FIFA and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) take steps enabling this to happen.

The situation reminds me of the case of Alain Baxter, the Scottish skier, who, in 2002, won Britain’s first Olympic medal in the sport only to have it stripped after he tested positive for methamphetamine, ingested from a Vicks inhaler.

The real punishment for Baxter, of course, was losing his medal.

But it is worth recalling that the ban handed out by the International Ski Federation was for only three months.

This seemed to me balanced and proportionate.

 Supporters of Peru's national football team captain Paolo Guerrero wait for his arrival at the Jorge Chavez airport in Lima ©Getty Images
Supporters of Peru's national football team captain Paolo Guerrero wait for his arrival at the Jorge Chavez airport in Lima ©Getty Images

Tessa Jowell (1947-2018)

Politicians (like journalists) can be a hard breed to warm to; something to do with our tendency to think we know best.

Yet I cannot think of anyone who did not like Tessa Jowell, the former UK Culture Secretary and Minister for the Olympics, who died last Saturday (May 12) aged 70, far too young.

I first encountered Jowell in 1992, ahead of the election that would deliver Downing Street back into the hands of John Major, one of the chief midwives of the National Lottery that provided much of the funding used successfully to transform Britain's sports performance.

On the stump, she was displaying the approachability and detailed knowledge of local health issues that helped her to defeat the sitting MP Gerald Bowden and win one of the leafier enclaves of South London for Labour.

Bowden, incidentally, had twice defeated Kate Hoey, the future Sports Minister, in the 1980s, on the second occasion by just 180 votes.

Few would have guessed at that point that Jowell would go on to provide, alongside Sports Minister and bred-in-the-bone Yorkshireman Richard Caborn, probably the most successful and pragmatic Governmental stewardship of the domestic sports sector in modern British political history.

This in spite of poor timekeeping: "She was never, ever on time," says Caborn affectionately, remembering how he once suggested she get a calendar rather than a watch "because arriving on the right day is good for you".

The crowning glory was, of course, snatching the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics away from Paris in Singapore in 2005.

More generally, though, the unlikely duo were a formidable Whitehall double-act, with Jowell having the ear of then Prime Minister Tony Blair and Caborn that of John Prescott, his pugnacious, more left-leaning deputy.

This proved critical in getting London's initially accident-prone bid off the ground.

Tributes have been paid to Tessa Jowell following her death ©Getty Images
Tributes have been paid to Tessa Jowell following her death ©Getty Images

Usually portrayed as an arch-Blairite, I think it would be more accurate to view Jowell as a firm believer in, and skilled practitioner of, the lost art of winning arguments - and elections - by taking ownership of the centre-ground. 

Personally, I most respected her capacity - and I have found this an extraordinarily rare thing in politicians - to change her mind, not because it was politically expedient to do so, or some over-important Government whip had worked her over, but because she had listened to people and thought about what they said.

A small example was her attitude to boxing, still a controversial sport because of the damage its practitioners can inflict on one another, but one with a culture that can have beneficial social impacts, nowhere more so than in tough inner cities.

In 1995, Jowell was one of 60 British MPs who backed introduction of a bill that would have banned the sport.

When, more than a decade later, I spent some time studying grass-roots boxing, however, she made it clear that her views had changed, saying she "certainly would not support a ban on boxing" and that "while I accept that the issue of lasting damage remains, I am also assured that the protective equipment is greatly improved and used more regularly".

There was, she went on, "also very clear evidence of benefit to boys, especially the kind who get involved in gangs.

"It seems to be the case that kids can box more safely…I would really like to see boxing clubs all over the country, particularly in inner cities."

A good listener with the time to think things through and articulate her conclusions cogently, as well as the determination and practicality to get things done in the Westminster bear-pit.

That was Jowell; it is our misfortune that these relatively simple yet critical virtues seem so rare in the political classes in Britain today.