Patrick Foster, the lead attorney representing suspended West Indies player Andre Russell, says the cricketer decided to drop his cross appeal providing the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) withdrew its initial appeal against the original 12-month suspension.During yesterday morning’s hearing at Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, the Anti-Doping Appeal Tribunal made a statement confirming reports on Sunday that both parties were set to quash their respective appeals.
“We had prepared and done written submissions… [but] we had heard that maybe the appeal by JADCO would be withdrawn,” Foster told journalists after yesterday’s sitting, which lasted fewer than 10 minutes.
“In view of the withdrawal of their appeal, after conferring with my client… he gave me instructions not to proceed with the cross appeal. He just wanted to see this matter — this unfortunate episode in his life — come to an end. He just wants to move forward,” the Queen’s Counsel added.
In explaining the withdrawal of its appeal, the Commission held a press conference yesterday morning at its base in Half-Way-Tree.
Alexander Williams, the chairman of JADCO’s board of directors, indicated that a “misunderstanding” had caused Carey Brown, the executive director of the local anti-doping body, to instruct the lodging of an appeal without prior consultation with the board.
Williams, flanked by Brown, as well as Allie McNab, the vice chairman of the JADCO board and Zachary Harding, a board member, said “post-decision review” and advice from Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte guided the move to withdraw the appeal.
Williams drew reference to the replacement of the Anti-Doping in Sport Act of 2008 with the 2014 edition.
“I think… it is fair to say there was a misunderstanding about what the new law prescribed,” he told members of the media.
Williams, while not detailing the “entire written decision” by the Hugh Faulkner-chaired Independent Anti-doping Disciplinary Panel regarding the imposition of the one-year ban, said the attorney general’s opinion was that the panel had the discretion to “impose a period of ineligibility of less than two years”.
Russell, who turned 29 last month, was banned by the independent disciplinary panel in January this year for failing to file his whereabouts on three occasions in a one-year period in 2015.
The ban is to end January 30, 2018.
However, JADCO, through its lawyer Lackston Robinson, had launched an appeal — within 21 days after the initial judgement — challenging the panel’s reason for imposing a penalty below the two years, which is the maximum allowed for such a violation.
In March, Russell’s legal team filed a counter appeal, reiterating the respondent’s claim of no negligence on his part.
In addition, Russell’s lawyers argued that — given the evidence provided throughout the hearing — if the cricketer is found guilty, any ban lasting more than 12 months would be excessive.
The Jamaican star all-rounder was not present at yesterday’s appeal hearing.
But while Foster spoke on behalf of Russell, there was no representative from JADCO.
“I’m a bit perplexed… I don’t want to speculate why no one [from JADCO] is here, but it’s an official hearing,” said Foster when asked about the absence of Robinson.
At JADCO’s office, Williams also could not explain why Robinson was missing in action at the hearing.
“For my part, I can’t explain it. I know Mr Lackston Robinson very well [and] I’m pretty sure there must be some good and compelling reason he wasn’t there this morning.
“It may have been an emergency, I don’t know. If there is an explanation we will certainly provide it at a later time. [However] because we are holding this press conference here I expected Mr Brown to be here.
“Let me just say, for the avoidance of any interpretation that this was some kind of slight or lack of respect for the tribunal – absolutely not. It was the expectation certainly from us that we would have been represented,” Williams stressed.
The appeal tribunal was chaired by Justice Karl Harrison, a retired court of appeal judge. The other members were Dr Audley Betton, Dr Maria Smith and Justice Marva McIntosh.