Friday 5 December 2008

Drug Testing - redux

Ivanchuk's missed drug test at the Dresden Olympiad has become a bigger story since I posted on it earlier this week, and in light of that I think I should clarify some things in my earlier post.
Firstly, I fully support Ivanchuk's refusal to submit to doping control, and I would protest any sanctions applied to him.
Secondly, for those who argue 'rules are rules', here is a recap of my experience in 2004, just to demonstrate how poorly FIDE handle the issue of drug testing.
After my round 10 game I was approached by an official and asked to submit to a drug test. I requested that my team captain (IA Cathy Rogers) accompany to the testing room. When we arrived there were no FIDE officials present, just the doctor who was to supervise the test. As I spoke no Spanish, and he very little English, an interpreter had to be found before the process could commence. When the interpreter arrived (GM Stuart Conquest btw) I asked the doctor what performance enhancing drugs FIDE believed I was using. While I thought this was a perfectly reasonable question, he looked somewhat confused. After repeating the question, he replied that there were none as far as he could see. I then stated I would not take the test and made a written statement explaining my reasons. I felt I should not be compelled to prove my 'innocence', especially as I was not being accused of any wrong doing in the first place. At this point the testing process finished. As well as no FIDE officials being present, I was not shown any FIDE documentation concerning the testing regulations or punishments.
An hour later I was requested to return to doping control as the head of the FIDE Medical Commission Jana Bellin wished to show me the FIDE regulations concerning drug testing. Of course this was now a meaningless act, as an entire hour had passed between my leaving doping control and returning, therebye compromising any further attempts to carry out a test.
The next day I was informed that my hearing (and Bobby Millers) would take place the following day. Of course this left both of us with very little time to recieve any kind of legal advice, and it was only coincidental that a lawyer friend of Cathy Rogers had come to the Olympiad as a spectator and was willing to help me at such short notice.
The hearing panel consisted of 5 members, and much to my surprise, one member of the panel was a player that I had defeated earlier in the Olympiad. I was informed at this stage that if I wished to postpone the hearing I would have to return to Europe at a later date (and at my own expense) if I wished to appear before it. After presenting my case, which included a representation from my lawyer that the testing procedure used by FIDE was in breach of Spanish privacy laws, the panel deliberated. In a 3-2 decision they ruled that both myself and Bobby Miller would have our individual points removed from our team totals. The two dissenting votes (GM Speelman and GM Dolmatov) argued that we should receive a warning, but no other punishment. So ultimately the decisive vote to annul my results was given by a player who I had defeated in this very tournament.
So as far as I can see FIDE broke at least 3 and possibly 4 rules in the testing and hearing procedures. There was no FIDE official present to supervise the test, I was shown no official documentation concerning the testing procedure, and the tribunal hearing my case was improperly constituted. Hanging over this was also the fact that the entire testing procedure was in breach of Spanish privacy laws.
But the fact that FIDE broke so many of their own rules and yet still ended up punishing myself and Bobby Miller demonstrates the imbalance between the power of an organisation and the power of the individual. If we blindly 'follow the rules', as so many people suggest, where is the redress when FIDE does not?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Shaun,
You forgot to mention that when asked immediately after the hearing, Jon Speelman confirmed that the tribunal did not discuss innocence or guilt but proceeded straight to penalty. Since legally the most important part of your case was that the drug test to which FIDE was asking you to submit was not legally constituted under Spanish law the tribunal had an obligation to discuss this matter first before they could possibly proceed to the penalty part of the hearing. When I spoke to the tribunal chairman immediately after speaking to Speelman and asked him to reconvene the tribunal while everyone was still there he declined and said the tribunal had made its decision and you could appeal to the International Sport Court in Lausanne if you wished. I pointed out to him this would cost thousands and possibly tens of thousands of dollars and was quite ridiculous but he remained unmoved.

I might also add that never before have I seen the result of a tribunal hearing (including the exact penalty handed down) published in a country's national newspaper before the tribunal had actually met.

Cathy Rogers