Wanniarachchi to appeal against doping verdict
Commonwealth Games gold medalist Manju Wanniarachchi's lawyer Kalinga Indatissa has drawn up plans to proceed with an appeal against the decision taken by the Federation Court of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) that stripped the boxer of his medal for doping.
Indatissa has decided to appeal against this decision as per rules and guidelines of the CGF to the Court of Arbitration for sport based in Switzerland.
Indatissa describes in a press release sent to the media on how the proceedings against Manju's appeal was conducted by the CGF.
1. The Federation Court of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) heard the appeal tendered by Manju Wanniarachchi who recently won the gold medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, in boxing. The court which sat on Sunday, the 8th of May 2011 consisted of HRH Prince Imran (Vice-President, CGF), Mr. Bruce Robertson (Vice-President, CGF), Ms. Louise Martin (Honorary Secretary, CGF) and Mr. Sharad Rao (Honorary Legal Advisor, CGF). Mr. Mike Hooper (Chief Executive Officer, CGF) and Dr. M. Jegathesan (Honorary Medical Advisor to CGF) were also in attendance. Mr. Wanniarachchi was represented by Mr. C.R. De Silva. PC, former Attorney General of Sri Lanka, Mr. Kalinga Indatissa, Mr. Nalinda Indatissa and Mr. Asith Siriwardene, Attorneys-at-law.
2. At the commencement of the hearing the Chairman of the panel informed the objective of the inquiry and thereafter Dr. Jegathesan of the Medical Unit of CGF outlined and narrated the facts, as they were up to that point.
3. It is relevant to note that Dr. Jegathesan never gave evidence under oath, except for the above narration.
4. Mr. C.R. De Silva then made submissions before the tribunal and maintained the position that the documentation relating to chain of custody of the samples, from the time it was taken from Mr. Manju Wanniarachchi and until it reached the laboratory, were not properly maintained. He highlighted the fact that "chain of custody" was an integral and imperative requirement under the CGF rules and in this instance the documents had not been properly maintained. He also invited the attention of the tribunal to the fact that there was an alteration to the seal numbers relating to the samples.
5. The bottles which are used for collection of samples cannot be opened or tampered with once it is closed as per the positions taken up by CGF. However Mr. De Silva demonstrated through three witnesses that this bottle could be opened within approximately 15 minutes. It was his position that in the present instance the non-availability of a proper chain of custody documents coupled with the fact that the bottle could be opened raises a serious doubt on the integrity of the samples in favour of Mr. Wanniarachchi.
6. After submissions were made Dr. Jegathesan sought to respond but did not meet any argument relating to absence of any documentation pertaining to chain of custody, the alterations which were apparent and the possibility of the bottle being opened. Even though the burden of proving that a doping offence has taken place was with the CGF, no witnesses were called to discharge this burden.
7. However, thereafter the tribunal delivered its verdict in a 31 point order. Out of the above 31 points 28 points was a mere narrative describing what has taken place and there was a paragraph where the tribunal merely said that they were satisfied that a doping violation has taken place.
8. Based on the above findings the CGF hearing panel recommended that the gold medal awarded to Manju Wanniarachchi to be withdrawn.
9. The legal representatives of Manju Wanniarachchi maintained the position that this order is totally biased and one made without adducing proper reasons.
10. Mr. C.R. De Silva and Mr. Kalinga Indatissa legal representatives of Manju Wanniarachchi will now proceed to appeal against this decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, as per the CGF guidelines on appeal.