By Dr Jason Haynes, Associate Professor of Law, Birmingham Law School, United Kingdom
This Post briefly examines the recently decided case of Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission v. Mr. John Campbell, Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel No. 14 of 2022.
Earlier this month (October 2022), promising West Indian Test opening batsman, John Campbell, received the devastating news that he would be banned, for four years, from playing competitive cricket, pursuant to the Jamaica Anti-Doping Rules, which reflect the World Anti-Doping Code, for evading, failing or refusing to submit to sample collection, contrary to Article 2.3 of the Code.
The circumstances of the case were that the Doping Control Officer (DCO), along with a chaperone and another member of staff of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADOC), presented themselves at Campbell’s home at or about 6am for the purposes of completing a blood sample collection. Campbell, when informed about the requirement to provide a sample and the consequences of failing to do so, inquired: “what if I wasn’t here?” to which the DCO responded, “then it wouldn’t be a missed test”. Campbell then replied, “then I am not here”, and proceeded to return inside.
Campbell subsequently received notice from JADCO that he was being charged with an anti-doping rule violation, namely a breach of Article 2.3 of the Code, which he denied. He requested a hearing.
At the hearing before the Jamaica Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (IADP), Campbell argued that he had not been properly notified of the sample collection, contrary to WADA’s International Standard for Testing and Investigation (ISTI), and that, in any event, he had a compelling justification for his failure/refusal to submit to sample collection.
Campbell’s medical team presented evidence of him being confused and disoriented on the morning in question resulting from a range of coalescing circumstances, including stomach problems, mental fogginess, a long-term consequence of his having previously tested positive for Covid-19, the lasting effects of abuse which he suffered as a teenager, and ongoing battle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to Campbell, these circumstances amounted to a “compelling justification”, such that he should not be treated as having violated Article 2.3 of the Code.
The IADP did not accept Campbell’s contentions.
First, it held that the DCO and/or Chaperone had presented sufficient evidence of their authorisation to conduct the sample collection, and that, although the ISTI provides that testing should be conducted between 6am – 11pm, this did not prevent testing from being conducted outside this timeframe. In fact, the Panel considered that the effectiveness of the Code will be called into question if an otherwise legitimate anti-doping rule violation is quashed every time a person is tested outside the stipulated timeframe. In short, given that Campbell was told, in a language that he could understand, the consequences of a possible failure to comply, there was no requirement that the DCO do everything he could do to persuade him to provide a sample. On the contrary, given that the DCO notified the athlete properly, and made it clear that the athlete was required to provide a sample, and that a failure to do so may be treated as an anti-doping rule violation, the DCO had complied with all of the requirements of the ISTI. It was the athlete’s responsibility to comply with his obligations.
In so far as the explanations proffered to support his claim of a compelling justification were concerned, the Panel refused to countenance these explanations, finding that if, indeed, Campbell had been disoriented as he claimed, he would not have informed his female friend, on returning to bed, that JADCO’s sample collection team had come at the wrong time. Similarly, if he had been as disoriented as he claimed, he would not have asked the DCO “what if I was not here”, and then respond, “then I am not here” when informed that a missed test would be recorded in that event. As to his doctors’ testimonies, the Panel did not find that the alleged difficult personal circumstances of Campbell relating to his abuse, PTSD and depression met the high threshold for establishing a compelling justification, namely that it was not physically, hygienically and morally possible to provide a sample.
Ultimately, then, the Panel imposed a 4-year period of ineligibility, although curiously it found that he had not acted intentionally.
Although it can be argued that, on the face of it, the 4-year period of ineligibility might be disproportionate, given the difficult coalescing personal circumstances as alleged by Campbell, it is submitted that the ruling is consistent with the spirit and letter of the WADC, and, indeed, extant jurisprudence. In fact, nothing in Campbell’s evidence suggests that it was physically, hygienically, or morally impossible to provide a sample. Also, in far more serious cases, for example, F v IOC, CAS 2004/A/714, Award of March 31, 2005, involving allegations of urinary retention, hostile doping control officers and testing conducted in the wee hours of the morning, the CAS found that the compelling justification threshold had not been met. A high bar to overcome!
Aside, however, from the legal technicalities, including the possibility of an appeal to CAS, what this case makes clear is that athletes, particularly younger athletes, need to be properly educated about the nature of their obligations under the World Anti-Doping Code, and be constantly encouraged by their coaching and/or managerial staff to act consistently therewith. It is, indeed, sad that such a young and talented player as Campbell, who is 29 years old, has had to bear such a significant period of ineligibility, which could have easily been avoided if he had learned from his colleague, Andre Russell’s, earlier indiscretion, in which he was banned on 31 January 2017 for one year for an ‘anti-doping whereabouts’ violation, after missing three doping tests in a period of twelve months, and acted in a more circumspect manner on the day in question. Regrettably, having failed to do so, Campbell’s promising future has now been put on hold as he counts down the years until the period of ineligibility expires in 2026.
Surely, this is a lesson for all athletes and their support persons that decisions have implications, especially when it comes to compliance with their anti-doping obligations!
Sports Law & Taxation features: articles; comparative surveys; commentaries on topical sports legal and tax issues and documentation.
The unique feature of Sports Law & Taxation is that this Journal combines up-to-date valuable and must-have information on the legal and tax aspects of sport and their interrelationships.
Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports feature: articles; comparative surveys; commentaries on topical sports legal and tax issues and documentation.
The unique feature of Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports is that this Journal combines for the first time up to-date valuable and must-have information on the legal and tax aspects of sport and their interrelationships.
The editors of the Journal Sports Law & Taxation are Professor Ian Blackshaw and Dr Rijkele Betten, with specialist contributions from the world's leading practitioners and academics in the sports law and taxation fields.
Dr. Rijkele Betten
Prof. Dr. Ian S. Blackshaw
Prof. Guglielmo Maisto
Maisto e Associati, Milano
Mr. Kevin Offer
Hardwick & Morris LLP, London
St. Jorisstraat 11
5211 HA 's-Hertogenosch