Did FIG break own rules for Dick? International body asked about Thema decision

The International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) can feasibly be drawn into the controversy regarding the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastic Federation’s (TTGF) decision to replace Thema Williams with her alternate, Marisa Dick, at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Test event on April 17.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymast Marisa Dick. (Copyright Christy Ann Linder)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymast Marisa Dick.
(Copyright Christy Ann Linder)

Williams’ de-selection, which was ostensibly done on the grounds of injury, now appears likely to lead to legal action against the TTGF while the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) can also be drawn in.

Williams’ attorneys, Keith Scotland and Dr Emir Crowne, will speak more on their intentions at a 4 pm press conference at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain on April 27.

However, it is arguably the FIG—which is led by president Bruno Grandi and men’s and women’s technical committee presidents Steve Butcher and Nellie Kim—who set the ball rolling with the decision to allow Williams to be replaced by Dick in the first place. Did they break their own rules to do so?

The FIG, according to rule 4.2 of its technical regulations, stipulates that: “In the case of injuries or illness of any gymnast between the time of accreditation and 24 hours prior to the beginning of CI (Qualifications), the NF (national federation) is allowed to change any accreditation. The gymnast injured or ill must return his/her accreditation and another gymnast can be accredited.”

The FIG further explained that: “24 hours prior to the beginning of CI, no new accreditations can be delivered. The 24 hour period is the one which precedes the start of the day of CI of the respective team/gymnast.”

Photo: FIG men's and women's technical committee presidents Steve Butcher (right) and Nellie Kim at the draw for the Glasgow 2015 World Gymnastics Championship.
Photo: FIG men’s and women’s technical committee presidents Steve Butcher (right) and Nellie Kim at the draw for the Glasgow 2015 World Gymnastics Championship.

The Rio Test event—or CI—began on April 16 with the men’s competition while the women’s competition was on April 17.

However, Dick was in Alberta preparing for a provincial meet at Fort McMurray on April 15 while Williams’ coach, John Geddert, did not send his memorable training report to the TTGF until 7.24 pm (8.24 pm Rio time) on April 15. And Williams did not hand in her accreditation until after 9.15 am on April 16.

By then, the FIG’s accreditation deadline might have passed.

The FIG’s rules do allow for a change of athlete after the deadline. But only under certain conditions:

“In the case of injuries or illness with medical certificate verified by the official FIG/LOC medical doctor of any gymnast between 24 hours prior to the beginning of CI and 60 min prior to CI or CIV,” states the FIG technical regulations, “any gymnast already accredited can be used as substitute by the NF.

“The substitute shall take exactly the same place as the replaced gymnast.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) and her coach John Geddert.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) and her coach John Geddert.

Based on those stipulations, Wired868 asked the FIG Media Department, by email, the following questions:

“Did the FIG receive a medical certificate that verified an injury to Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams on April 15, 16 or 17 at the Rio Test event? Was Marisa Dick accredited prior to her arrival in Rio De Janeiro on April 17?

“If the answer to one or both of those questions is “no”, then why did the FIG allow the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation to replace Thema Williams with Marisa Dick?”

TTGF president David Marquez said by email and confirmed at last week’s press conference that his body did not have a medical report for Williams. Geddert said that, on April 16, the relevant medical official cleared Williams to participate, based on the authorisation of the Trinidad and Tobago board.

By then, Dick was already on her way to Rio.

Dick’s mother, Hannifer Dick, told Wired868 that she insisted on confirmation that her daughter could compete in Rio before they started their arduous day and a half journey to Brazil.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016. (Courtesy Hannifer Dick)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016.
(Courtesy Hannifer Dick)

According to different reports, the Dicks got that confirmation between 11 pm (9 pm Alberta time) on April 15 and 1 am (11 pm Alberta time) on April 16—which would have been between 12 am and 2 am in Rio.

How could the TTGF have known, at such short notice, that the FIG would allow Dick to compete, despite the fact that there was no medical certificate to permit Williams’ withdrawal?

The FIG is usually very fussy about proper procedure where injuries are concerned.

Clause 5.5 of the FIG’s technical report states: “If a gymnast, a group or a team leaves the competition without being able to present a medical certificate from one of the competition’s official medical doctors, the gymnast, the group or the team will be expelled from the competition and will not be permitted to continue the competition.”

So why did the FIG take a different approach for Williams and Dick?

Photo: FIG president Bruno Grandi is in his fifth term at the helm after taking office since 1996. (Copyright The Examiner)
Photo: FIG president Bruno Grandi is in his fifth term at the helm after taking office since 1996.
(Copyright The Examiner)

Up until the time of publication, the international gymnastics body had not responded to Wired868.

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  1. Ripe FIG or…. green FIG, or force-ripe FIG?

  2. I just need to understand this because it’s been bothering me since I first read the article involving FIG: Why would an international organization bend its rules for a country that’s sending an athlete for the first time?

  3. I am awaiting the outcome of this………. At this point I just want Thema to go…… I don’t care if she places. She has earned her spot and she should be the one going

  4. Dont follow gymnastics & won’t ever but after reading this part of the story, I’m officially intrigued and shocked. This is right up there with the many sporting scandals I can remember in recent years worldwide – especially in the Caribbean WDMC, SMH, *spillsguinessjpg* etc

  5. Anxiously awaiting the results of this so-called investigation

  6. Saw this comment by someone on FB….

    Waaaayyyyy Tv6 and Mark Bassant is hot tonight!!!! Steve Butcher we see you. Steve Butcher, one of the Chairpersons of FIG, the International Gymnastics body, is a “hoth” (hot lol) Trini with a “hoth” Trinidad passport and is quite close with guess who: Ricardo Lue Shue. Surprise Surprise. Footage coming soon if you missed it.

    Is this true?

  7. Wow heartbreaking and so like our own story

  8. That FIG revelation might just be the window of opportunity for justice to prevail. One thing’s for sure I don’t wish “Dicks and FIG!!!” on anyone not even my worst enemy..

  9. International Court of Sport for this

  10. this is actually public knowledge ..
    nothing new in this article …

    but this still needs to be printed and re-printed, because of how stupid T&T citizens take easy chain up from misinformation ..

    I fully support both athletes ..
    I would prefer the better athlete represent T&T ..

    and I am sorry for Marissa Dick, because it is quite clear than Thema is better..
    and not just a little better ,
    Thema is better by FAR …

  11. These people making a think cornmeal porridge. Plot cannot get thicker than this. Shameful.

  12. The hopes of two young talented ladies died because of stupidity.

  13. It is the same strategy used in business for hundreds of years. Why do you think that there are no densely Melanated people owning fabric outlets in Trinidad. Why do you think “so called” Black people all over the World are at the bottom of the economic ladder. It has been a long-standing conspiracy against us and through all this we miseducate our young and place our trust in Europeans who all total have never done anything but rob us. Although with this History we have a European son as our Finance Minister and think we know how the World Turns. Ms. Williams is not representing Trinidad and Tobago because of her signature mount on the bar. She is thought of as not marketable enough to achieve such a high standing in the sport. It has nothing to do with Trinidad and Tobago or crayons. Thats the way the corrupted systems of the World works.

  14. Expect nothing from FIG, especially Ms Kim. She has orchestrated a gymnastics coup in her own country of Belarus. It appears those in charge of the sport will bend the rules to suit themselves.

  15. So much doesn’t add up regarding this very controversial decision by the TTGF to make a last minute change of representative for reasons that seem they are unable to substantiate.
    The medical clearance by an independent & respected, international sports doctor contradicts the claims of the local chapter prez.
    Whether its based on race or class, it seems like neo – colonialism and must be roundly condemned.
    What message are we sending to hard working millenials?
    Make them $pay$ Thema. #futuredeterent
    Is the TTGF related to FIFA?

  16. Reading this from afar..ALL I see is people in high places conspired to remove Thelma and replace her with another who could not make it on Her Country’s team

  17. Good investigation, thanks for this.

  18. WDMC I reading here. We will bring down FIG if we have to.

  19. OK here’s my synopsis. For Marisa to have travel from Canada to Rio in time for the meet, the TTFG must have had some assurances from FIG (insider info perhaps?) to have been comfortable enough in their decision to take that risk knowing the guidelines and rules of FIG.
    Why was Dick’s mother so insistent that she had a guarantee from TTGF that Marisa’s position be absolutely clarified before she left Edmonton? Was something being set in motion?
    This seems to have some far-reaching implications that will not bode well for our tiny twin island. The lengths and twists in this plot to ascertain that Marisa replace Thema at the Olympics certainly has clandestine tendencies

  20. Keep the pressure on them. Fed up of living in a Banana Republic where nobody is ever held accountable!

  21. @lasana wasnt the 24 hrs the saturday though? Even Geddert in his interview on I95.5 said he left the saturday and returned to the US only after the deadline had passed. The test event was in rio sunday afternoon not so? How could 24 hrs prior to the athlete’s qualification be friday morning?

    • Nigel the point being made is not the timeline but the fact that no medical report was requested or submitted stating the extent of thema’s injury.

    • Kimberly Solozano he did say when marisa was allowed in the fig deadline had already passed. Meaning they allowed dick after their deadline had passed…so based on this story the timeline is everything.

    • and where the certificate is concerned 4.2 doesnt ask for a med cert as stated in lasana’s article…the one where it is between 24hrs to one hr before is where they state the need for a med cert.

    • From not knowing all the nitty gritty of the regulations, I think they’re asking – since the CI officially started Sat 16 Apr am, then the deadline to change gymnists should have been Fri 15 am. (or is it based on men/women competition). But nevertheless ttgf (used the 4.2?) to discredit Thema after the time on the “injury” grounds. However the required medical certificate was never provided for FIG. So since a medical was never sent, even after Marisa “qualified”, why wasnt t&t expelled?
      Wired said they were still awaiting response from them.

    • Alexx Ali “24 hours prior to the beginning of CI, no new accreditations can be delivered. The 24 hour period is the one which precedes the start of the day of CI of the respective team/gymnast.”
      That statement there is clear as day…precedes the start of day of the respective TEAM/GYMNAST”

      So its the competition day of the specific person…

      it went onto say d only way to let a gymnast in within that 24 hr window is to provide a medical cert up to 1 hr before competition.

    • and wuss yer geddert in this interview said he only went back to the US the saturday after the deadline had passed. so he knew it to be saturday…how we reach to friday?

    • CI started sat so deadline was fri… and yes Geddert left Saturday after the deadline passed …. isn’t Saturday after Friday?

    • Roxanne Roxii John thema’s ci was sunday. the statement i quoted above clearly states the day of CI for the team or athlete…not the entire event. Geddert said he left after the deadline passed the saturday….he took thema to the doctor before that deadline arrived the saturday to have her declared fit.

      And again quoted above they said the CI day for the team/athlete. The ci day for thema was sunday. Maybe her coach got it wrong. smh…

      To me that is clear as day. Only thing not clear is whether they have to provide a medical once they pulling out an athlete or only when they accepting an athlete after the 24 hr window has closed and up until 1 hr before compeition.

    • Ahh i see the part about the competition day/gymnist. Thanks.
      I asked about the Friday because the decision was taken by the ttgf & sent to fig on Friday. And this was prior to all the required approvals/documents on removing a gymnist. Did the fig took the ttgf’s instruction & changed it based on a simple “she’s injured because we say so. Take her name off.”
      Geddert is an Olympics coach so he knows the rules. Once he woke up Saturday morning & saw all that happened while he slept, it was too late. Or Maybe he also knew ttgf would never give Thema the ok even after drs said she’s fine to compete. Did thema have a chance up to one hr before competition if the ttgf submitted a fitness certificate? Fig only liaise with federations, not individuals or coaches. I’m not asking you these qs but what the article mentioned.
      Let’s hear what fig says…well IF they respond.

    • Alexx Ali viable questions. I believe they may respond….or if they realise legal proceedings have been initiated they may say due to that they wont respond. we shall see

    • I hope they do. Even for a teeny speck of a country 1st timers like us.

    • I will simply wait for it to unfold even more… and just as everyone who said we were too hard on this situation, are now all up in the fray…. I will wait for even more people to become aware….

    • Fuss these people tricky. I starting to wonder if Thema was officially accredited. Maybe they always had Dick name up there?

    • Nigel, I really cannot say for sure because some things boil down to interpretation. Should it be Friday evening then? Or what time on Saturday morning?
      I know now that Thema was accredited on April 12, which was quite early. But she isn’t sure when the deadline was.
      I think lawyers from both sides are looking at it now. I won’t pretend that it is clear cut. But be careful with snap judgments on it yourself.
      Nothing is clear here.

    • Btw Nigel, what do you think about this bit: “The gymnast injured or ill must return his/her accreditation and another gymnast can be accredited.”
      Thema Williams could not have handed in her accreditation in her sleep. She only found out she was withdrawn on Saturday morning.
      Marisa’s journey had started long before. Well, Marisa could not have been accredited until Thema handed in her accreditation. And that happened sometime during the day on Saturday.

    • Lasana Liburd ok. but again for me the language concerning 24 hrs is pretty clair…24 hrs before the respective athlete or team CI…i await the results of that…but for me that specific thing is clear as day.

      concerning medical certs and accreditation that I cannot ans. The rules say accreditation has to happen before the 24 hr limit? Or just replacement?

      I am certain the FIG will cover itself…easily. Whether right or wrong.

      Marisa got there sunday morning right…does she need to be present to be accredited? Dont know.

      But the 24 hrs for me doesnt leave much room for interpretation when it uses the word respective…if it said “24 hrs before the CI competition” that is more vague.

    • As an aside it would be incredible if through CAS or FIG she is reinstated…

    • I may not be involved in gymnastics but my sport of powerlifting does things in a similar fashion. The team manager or head coach handles our accreditation at a technical meeting even if we are not there. However our final nomination is a month before. However and I will agree with you Nigel Tyrell P. Reid that the time for changes without a reason had passed.
      They were thus in that 24hr period before competition day ie sunday, at which point no changes without a medical certificate could be made. So its clear as day. The coach knows the rules and obviously he was perplexed as to why they took that decision without consulting the team.
      As for the sore ankle….absoloute rubbish. I have competed for this country with the flu and medaled . In one instanced had diarrhea just 2hrs before I competed and still won the gold medal. So unless a medical team had decleared Thema as unfit….these people on nonsense. And atheletes compete with injuries all the time ask any professional. Smh yes.

  22. This whole affair is getting more ridiculous every day! I hope they won’t get away with this.

  23. I’m still feeling stunned by the last article, the mama Dick letter, and now this?

    I’m going to need one of those giant wall charts that crime scene investigators use to keep track of it all at this point. It’s become incredulous.

  24. Lasana Liburd to be honest i was holding my tongue but it is over bearing now!!! In a month where we celebrate 46 anniversary of the 1970 black power uprising i find it more than a little disturbing that these events have not generate a more forceful response!! As a child of the revolution i appeal ur efforts to keep the story on the front burner but this is nake discrimation!!!

  25. Smoking guns everywhere. TTGF it seems you guys tried a Iil skullduggery and it backfired big time. Now you have sullied our country’s name for selfish gain. You also killed a young woman’s dream unjustly. I hope the good Lord fixes this for the best.

  26. I dunno how much thicker this plot can get. If this goes all the way up to FIG – protocols not being followed – then heads should spin up there too.

  27. Can’t imagine why the FIG would break its own rules though. Can’t imagine what’s his face is so big in the dance.
    But would still love to see the official paperwork to know who was listed has the HOD.

  28. Mel Lissa, maybe this is the long shot that Keith Scotland had in mind when they insisted that Thema Williams be reinstated.
    I have no idea but we might know more tomorrow.
    And yes, Chabeth, I think this will probably go to CAS. But CAS doesn’t have a great track record in ruling against big sporting bodies, I think.

  29. Tell me you all don’t have even more breaking news tomorrow night. #lettheDickbreak

  30. FIG broke their rules for DICK !

  31. And with what seemed like one innocuous Dick-thrust, the TTGF has now reamed the FIG and invited them into what is sure to become a major international scandal!

    This situation worsens with each passing day. Methinks Thema will be set for life financially when this drama is over. TTGF will have liability forevermore!

  32. Dicks not getting a Break atall .. papa

  33. Let CAS sort this out…
    Because I really don’t know that any other body involved knows what to do.

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