As we earlier reported earlier this morning , the Olympic Council of Ireland has reinstated Catriona Cuddihy to the 4 x 400 metres Relay squad following a five hour meeting last Thursday.
The O.C.I has just issued this statement:
“The appeal to the Olympic Council of Ireland’s Appeal Tribunal by Catriona Cuddihy against the decision of an Athletics Ireland Appeal Panel (AIAP) to de-select her from the Women’s 4 x 400m relay team for the Olympic Games has been successful.
The OCI’s Appeal Tribunal held an in person hearing on Thursday night last, July 19 in Dublin city centre and heard submission from legal representatives of Ms Cuddihy, Athletics Ireland and Joanna Mills.
Ms Mills prior appeal to Athletics Ireland against her non-selection for the relay team had been upheld and it was this against this decision which Ms Cuddihy appealed.
The OCI Appeal Tribunal was chaired by Susan Ahern (Executive Member) along with William O’Brien (first Vice-President) and Dermot Sherlock (Hon.Secretary General).
The Appeal Tribunal found that process for the original selection by the AI High Performance Relay Selectors had been carried out in a fair and proportionate manner. The AIAP in reaching its decision differed with the interpretation of the Selectors in the application of two of the eight selection criteria for the Women’s relay team on the grounds that their application had been too narrowly applied.
The Tribunal in reviewing the selection criteria and the AIAP decision found that it did not agree with the AIAP conclusions.
The Tribunal found that the Selectors did follow and apply the selection policy outlined in the Relay Programme and did so with diligence and acumen.
This Tribunal finds that the AIAP did not properly construe Selection Factor No.1 [overall relay experience] and by imposing the interpretation it did, the AIAP itself applied a narrow interpretation which was not contemplated under the Selection Factors.
The Tribunal further finds in relation to Selection Factor No.2 [overall experience in major championships (individual and relay)] while a broader interpretation could have been applied to the scope of this criteria, namely to include pre-2011 major championship experience including at junior level, that the additional weighting accorded by the AIAP to the experience of Ms Mills in this regard was disproportionate when the totality of the components within Selection Factor No.2 and the weighting accorded to the other athletes based upon their major championship experience and contribution to the relay team were considered.
Based on these findings the Tribunal upheld the appeal of Catriona Cuddihy, and her original nomination to the OCI as an athlete on the Women’s 4 x 400m relay is reinstated.
Nothing in the decision prevents recourse by the parties to the Court of Arbitration for Sport(CAS).”
SportsNewsIreland : The full reasons are set out here in the formal 19 page document which will now be studied by the athletes and their advisors before deciding if any further appeals are appropriate.
Whilst there is no official confirmation from the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) as yet, SportsNewsIreland understands that Caitriona Cuddihy has been successful in her appeal against being dropped from Ireland’s 4 x 400m relay squad for London.
Quite what that means for Joanna Mills, the Ballymena athlete, who had been chosen to replace her remains uncertain pending an O.C.I statement but usually reliable sources indicate that Mills has now been dropped from the team.
The specially convened appeals tribunal found that the original selection of Cuddihy had been correct based on agreed procedures.
Mills could now appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland but this seems unlikely because of (a) the expense and (b) that the Games start on Friday.
Cuddihy, from Kilkenny City Harriers, and sister of Joanne, took her appeal to the OCI last Thursday night and the hearing, at which both of the athletes and Athletics Ireland were represented by legal teams, took almost five hours, as we previously reported.
In fact Cuddihy was chosen for selection on 2 July albeit her personal best of 54.59 was some 0.18secs slower even at that stage than Mills’ seasonal best .Of course there are other important factors apart from “fastest times” .
Subsequently, Mills, 19, has gone on to run times of 54.17 and 54.52 at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona where she reached the semi-finals.
This shameful episode was always likely to end in tears for one or other of the athletes, though no blame can be attached to either of the athletes.
Clearly once the Games are over, Athletics Ireland have serious questions to answer and resignations should follow , whilst the Olympic Council of Ireland must ensure that existing guidelines regarding selection are
not open to such legal challenges again .
Meantime for one athlete her dreams of competing in London 2012 are now fulfilled, for another, her dreams are crushed at least for another four years, if at all.
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