Colin Moynihan

The BOA's slam-dunk loser of a case

Rarely in my sportswriting life do I acknowledge that I not only have been to law school (the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco) but passed the California Bar Exam (first try, thank you). Any first-year law student could have told you the outcome before it was issued Monday by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of the British Olympic Assn.'s "lifetime" ban against dopers.

They could have told you the outcome because the BOA was dead wrong and its full-throated defense of the ban off-base, and that's what a three-member CAS panel unanimously ruled.

Lawyers and tribunals are not often given to such plain-spoken language. They teach you in law school that it's best to avoid such talk.

Nor, for that matter, does it out-and-out call the case, brought by a defiant BOA after being declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency rules, a thorough and complete waste of time, money and energy that proved a point that in the first instance was thoroughly obvious.

The reason they don't teach you that in law school is because that's what journalism school is for.

Another thing they teach you in journalism school is to identify the instant winners in court cases.

Here, that's easy:

Dwain Chambers, for one. The British sprinter was the first athlete to test positive for the designer steroid THG in 2003 amid the BALCO scandal. He received the mandatory two-year ban from running track; the BOA also imposed its lifetime Olympic ban.

Since returning to the track, Chambers has won the 2010 world indoor sprint title; he is the 2012 world indoor sprint bronze medalist.

There are some who think Chambers is still a cheat and doesn't belong at the Olympics.

Like Dai Greene, the British 400-meter world champion. He told the Daily Mail, the British newspaper, "Like Dwain Chambers as a person but he knowingly broke the rules and he should be made to pay. We should not soften the punishments. This will not help to rid our sport of drugs. Think of the messages this is sending to doping cheats and to those thinking of traveling down that risky route."

Dai Greene is of course entitled to his opinion. He's also entitled to be wrong.

This space has been aggressive in calling for track and field to rid itself of doping. It is perhaps the most egregious problem the sport faces. But Chambers has not only been made to pay in serving his time, he has been fully and completely forthcoming not only about what he did, but about how and why.

That is how you earn a shot at redemption. Maybe Dwain Chambers earns a medal or more in London. Maybe not. But he deserves every chance to try.

Moreover, you don't think the doping authorities learn real-world stuff from a guy like Chambers?

Victor Conte, the man at the center of the BALCO scandal, issued a statement a few days ago that said of Chambers, "He trusted me like a father and I will forever be remorseful regarding the pain and suffering that I caused him and his entire family. Dwain has been punished in many ways over the last nine years and yet he has somehow found forgiveness in his heart for me.

"… Dwain has rebounded from the serious mistakes he made to become a man of strong moral character. Those who know him as I do have enormous respect and admiration for his distinct ability to overcome adversity."

As Usain Bolt's coach, Glen Mills, put it in a conference call last week with reporters: "I don't believe that somebody should be sentenced to death or banned for life. They should be given an opportunity to redeem himself."

Meanwhile, the potential big-time loser:

Colin Moynihan, the chairman of the BOA. There's a way to argue, and style points matter if one might want to keep advancing one's career in international sport.

Last November, Moynihan said the World Anti-Doping Agency had "failed to catch the major drug cheats of our time," and in calling for an "informed review" of the global body, said "Regrettably, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the 10 years since its creation, WADA has been unable to achieve its own, well-intentioned objectives."

Typically, that's not the way to get ahead, especially with the International Olympic Committee.

Just to make sure there was no misunderstanding, the CAS panel on Monday ordered the BOA to pay some of WADA's legal costs. Again, it didn't say the case was a complete and total waste of time. But pretty close. it went so far as to say that the matter was "unnecessarily increased by the voluminous and largely irrelevant submissions and evidence submitted by the BOA on this appeal."

WADA, after Monday's ruling, issued its own statement that said it "regrets the many hysterical and inaccurate statements from the BOA in the course of challenging the WADA decision," adding a few paragraphs later, rules "are not based on emotive arguments or the wishes of any one signatory or," for emphasis, "individual."

The underlying question is why this case ever got to this point.

For one, if the BOA was non-compliant, why -- in the build-up to a home Olympics -- divert time and money on litigation? Everyone knows litigation is adversarial. Why be so confrontational? To reiterate, surely that reflects leadership style.

For another, all you had to do was read the ruling issued last Oct. 6 by the very same three-member panel in the case of American 400-meter runner LaShawn Merritt.

In that instance, the panel ruled "invalid and unenforceable" the IOC's Rule 45, which sought to ban any athlete hit with a doping-related suspension of more than six months from competing in the next Summer or Winter Games.

Why did it so rule?

Because the WADA code is the controlling policy.

If the IOC had wanted to enact that kind of extra sanction, the way to do it would have been to seek an amendment to the WADA code. The IOC didn't do so, and thus the "six-month rule" was blatantly a dud.

Same goes here.

The BOA is a signer to the WADA code. The BOA couldn't have one rule and everybody else have another. Its lifetime ban was out of "harmony," to use the legal terminology, with the rest of the world. The BOA rule thus could not stand.

To return to square one: why, then, was the BOA only too happy to see this case end up before CAS?

Assuming people act logically, did the logic tree work like this:

The BOA got to argue the case, not only before CAS but in the newspapers, and preach that it was occupying the moral high ground …

And now, having been shot down, it gets to send the likes of Chambers, and cyclist David Millar (who admitted to using the blood-booster EPO in the wake of a French polce investigation) to the Olympics …

Where if these world-class athletes win medals, those medals add to the home-team count …

In which case this whole thing was -- for the BOA itself and the British team -- a no-lose proposition from the get-go, right?

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

That's the thing about law school. They teach you there that in the search for clarity you often learn that life is -- and the means and method of motive are -- mysterious, indeed.

A very British row that matters well beyond Britain

LONDON -- Sign the thing, Dan Doctoroff and Jay Kriegel kept saying, the leaders of the New York 2012 bid about out of time and out of patience. It was extraordinarily late in the game, already July in 2005, the International Olympic Committee poised to decide after a campaign that had carried on for nearly two years who was going to get the 2012 Summer Games, and still this one document had yet to be executed. Too, it was late at night in Singapore, then morning, the vote now just hours away. Peter Ueberroth, the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, simply did not want to sign the joint marketing and promotional agreement, as the document was called. It simply was not good for the USOC, he believed.

What to do?

If Ueberroth didn't sign, New York might as well withdraw from the contest. But if he did, it would be with the greatest reluctance. Moreover, everyone already knew that the Americans didn't really like the deal, or want it, and so even if he signed New York's chances were already dimmed.

Ultimately, Ueberroth agreed to a basic set of terms. Even so, New York got all of 19 votes, bounced early in the voting, won by London.

Now, as history would have it, that very same sort of document is at the heart of a disagreement between the London 2012 organizing committee and the British Olympic Assn., a dispute that underscores both the present and the future of the way cities and countries bid for the Olympic Games.

On one level, the issue is simple enough: does a one-size-fits-all marketing agreement work?

The battle has erupted here amid an annual Olympic-themed convention called SportAccord at which the International Olympic Committee's policy-making executive board also convenes. This year's convention is being staged in London; it got underway here Tuesday.

An "embarrassment," the British Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, acknowledged Tuesday.

Four of the first five questions IOC president Jacques Rogge was asked at a news conference Tuesday related to the dispute. He dodged them all, saying the issue is for lawyers to decide.

Which is true enough.

But the reality as well is that the matter presents a far more fundamental issue --  has it become all but mandatory that a national Olympic committee be fully funded by its federal government?

The emerging trend certainly seems to suggest so. See, for example, Russia in 2014, Brazil in 2016. And, for good measure, China in 2008.

Meanwhile, the losing efforts of New York for 2012 and Chicago for 2016 offer instructive evidence to the contrary.

As does the London battle of 2012 and the ongoing case of the British Olympic Assn., complicated by personality politics involving the polarizing figure of Colin Moynihan, its chairman.

In its particulars, the dispute revolves around how one defines the word "surplus." The BOA wants more of any such surplus the 2012 Games generate. Under that joint marketing agreement, signed in 2005, it's entitled to a 20 percent cut. The BOA maintains that cut should be calculated before the costs of the Paralympics are figured in.

Get real, London 2012 says. For accounting purposes, it counters, the agreement is straightforward -- both the Olympics and Paralympics should be treated as one event. The IOC agrees with London 2012.

The BOA can hardly be faulted for seeking money. That's its job -- to get money to boost the performance of the British team.

You have to wonder, though, about the efficacy of a tactic that involves trying to obtain more money by, in effect, being widely portrayed as being against disabled people. Which the BOA has strenuously argued that it's not -- indeed, it shares office space with the British Paralympic Assn.

Though this issue has erupted publicly over the past few weeks, it seems difficult if not impossible to believe that the BOA didn't tell the IOC about it long ago, perhaps even years ago.

Why? Because this was eminently foreseeable. Like the USOC, the BOA's challenge is that it must raise its own money.

This is why the USOC has -- and by extension, American bids have -- repeatedly faced such challenges in the bid game, and why until this issue is re-framed it's not at all clear that the USOC should entertain, even for a minute, another bid.

Again -- why?

To reduce a complex economic matter to a simple math problem:

Let's say the USOC generates $100 million annually in domestic sponsorships (a tad high, perhaps, but rounding things up to make the example easier).

It's roughly seven years from the day you're awarded the Games until they're over.

That means the USOC would be walking away from some $700 million in revenue.

What national Olympic committee could afford to do that? More precisely -- without the security of a federal-government guarantee, could do so?

Is it really any wonder why Peter Ueberroth had qualms?

This math problem is why the Atlanta marketing program for the 1996 Games and the Salt Lake program in 2002 were set up differently -- staffed jointly by the local organizing committees and the USOC and marketed together with revenue shared on a sliding scale.

This, you might say, is a form of American exceptionalism.

In the Olympic movement, American exceptions have consistently been viewed dimly.

It's widely known within the movement, of course, that the USOC -- and only the USOC -- gets special broadcast and marketing revenue shares. Rogge said at a meeting early Tuesday with the summer sports federations that ongoing talks with the USOC aimed at re-calibrating those shares after 2020 are "making good progress." He declined to provide details.

The summer sports assembly, which goes by the acronym ASOIF and represents the 26 sports in the Summer Games, asked Rogge if a new deal could start sooner than 2020. ASOIF president Denis Oswald said, "It seems a long time to wait."

"The answer is no," Rogge said.

It remains uncertain, meanwhile, how the dispute between the BOA and London 2012 will ultimately be resolved.

The BOA wants to take the case to the Lausanne, Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, the sport's world's highest tribunal; CAS has yet to say whether it will hear the case; London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe has called the BOA's move "spurious"; Oswald, who is also the IOC's chief liaison to the London 2012 Games, said the IOC believes CAS has no reason to hear the matter.

"It is an embarrassment and we need to get it sorted out," Robertson said Tuesday at a forum sponsored by a British sports journalists association.

Perhaps the time has come as well for the IOC to take a fresh look at the way it approaches marketing agreements in bid-city arrangements. Rightly or wrongly, this one has caused a significant "embarrassment" in the run-up to the 2012 Games. Fairly or not, the standardized approach has sharply limited the ability of the United States to compete for the Summer Games.

Maybe that's the sort of thing the IOC might want to get sorted out.

Update: In a move welcomed by the IOC, the BOA announced Wednesday that it had suspended the CAS case and would start talking again with London 2012 in hopes of resolving the dispute.  IOC spokesman Mark Adams observed, "It's a good thing if people are talking. As Winston Churchill would say, 'Jaw-jaw is better than war-war.' "