A leading American sports attorney has opined that the sanction imposed by a Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) disciplinary committee on 400 meters sprinter Amantle Montsho was excessively harsh and can be greatly reduced on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
“The sanction handed down to Montsho was excessively harsh in light of past cases decided by the CAS involving similar circumstances. ┬áThe World Anti-Doping Code requires that sanctions for athletes around the world be harmonized in light of their degree of fault,” said Greene in an interview with The Telegraph.
He said Montsho exercised great caution as she conducted an internet search to determine if the supplement she was taking, EnduraPro, contained substances that were on the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). She also consulted with her trainer and physiotherapist before taking the supplement.
“Montsho exercised great caution before taking a contaminated supplement.┬áTherefore, her degree of fault is low and she should receive a sanction of six months or less,” said Greene.
“On appeal to the CAS, I am almost certain that her sanction will be greatly reduced by an international panel of sports arbitrators. Last year, I appealed a similarly harsh sanction handed down against Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson in Jamaica and successfully had it reduced to six months.”
Greene said the disciplinary committee wrongly applied the applied the wrong code to Montsho’s case.
“Her hearing took place in 2015 and the 2015 code could apply under a sports law doctrine known as┬álex mitior. ┬áThe 2015 code is more favourable for athletes who unknowingly ingest a banned substance through a contaminated supplement. ┬áFor this reason, the decision has even less legal foundation to rest upon,” he said.
Montsho was suspended from athletics for two years for testing positive for a banned stimulant methylhexaneamine after the 400m final during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year. The ban means the 31 year old 2011 world champion can only return to the track in July 2016 at age 33 years. During the two year suspension, Amantle is prohibited from participating in any capacity in athletics competitions sanctioned by IAAF and its members. The ban is widely considered to be too harsh even by Moses Bantsi, President of BAA.
Meanwhile the BAA and National Olympics Committee (NOC) are hamstrung from appealing on Montsho’s behalf because they are affiliates of IAAF and WADA. Montsho’s lawyer, Tshiamo Rantao is convinced that he will be able to overturn the panel’s findings on appeal. However, the biggest obstacle for Montsho lies in raising the US$20,000 (approx. P200, 000) needed to lodge an appeal with the CAS before the 30 day deadline.
Paul Greene is the Founder of Global Sports Advocates and one of America’s leading sports lawyers.┬á He has handled high profile sports law matters around the world, including numerous hearings before the CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland known as the “Supreme Court for Sports Law.” Greene successfully appealed doping bans for Jamaican athletes Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson at the CAS and managed to get their suspensions reduced from 18 months to 6 months.┬á In a historic decision, he also got the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission to pay the costs of the suit. He is also on the list of accredited lawyers for the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada and the United States Olympic Committee.