FIG Secretary General André Gueisbuhler responded today on the controversial deselection of gymnast Thema Williams and accreditation of her alternate, Marisa Dick, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016.
And FIG’s response was identical, despite the specificity of the questions, to Wired868, Williams’ attorney Dr Emir Crowne and an unspecified number of citizen journalists and curious observers.
It was penned as though straight from the FIG’s legal department.
The FIG confirmed: Williams was registered, her place was taken by Dick, Dick qualified for the August Olympic Games, and the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) has until May 9 to confirm that it will send an athlete to Rio.
Most tellingly, the FIG considers that the “dispute between Thema Williams and the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) is an internal affair of Trinidad and Tobago, its legal and sports authorities.”
And “since the qualification place earned by Marisa Dick is nominative, no name change or replacement is possible.”
Dick, according to the FIG, is Trinidad and Tobago’s only legitimate choice.
The stance is unlikely to have surprised Williams’ attorneys, Keith Scotland and Crowne, since the FIG might also be culpable in the furore.
According to FIG rules: “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. 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.”
The Rio Test event started on April 16 while the women’s artistic competition started at 9 am on April 17.
Williams told Wired868 that she returned her accreditation after 9.15 am on Saturday April 16. Dick, who was already at least nine hours into her dash to Rio by then, could not be accredited before that point.
But no medical certificate was given to FIG and Williams had not even visited the doctor yet, although it was clearly within the 24-hour period.
Williams said she eventually saw a doctor before lunch and was cleared to compete, once authorised to do so by the TTGF.
So far, all indications are that this medical clearance was communicated verbally. That may become a legal issue at some point.
The FIG, so far, is not volunteering to get involved in the potential quagmire.
Williams’ attorneys suggested on Wednesday that they will petition the TTOC to have the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Tripartite Commission study Williams’ case while the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is another potential route.
Both bodies have jurisdiction over FIG and might force them to reveal timelines, despite their unwillingness to do so to date. It might be too late for Williams to expect help from the Tripartite Commission, though, as on April 26, the IOC body confirmed its list of gymnasts for the August Olympic Games.
For Williams, it remains a race against the clock.
(FIG Official Communication)
Considering number of requests and questions received from various stakeholders and the media from Trinidad and Tobago concerning the registration of the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics athletes Thema Williams and Marisa Dick at the Test Event (Last Olympic Qualification) in Rio de Janeiro and FIG’s qualification rules for the Olympic Games, FIG releases the following Statement:
1. The dispute between Thema Williams and the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation is an internal affair of Trinidad and Tobago, its legal and sports authorities.
2. We confirm that the initial registration of Thema Williams to participate at the Qualifying Event in Rio was duly made by the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation, respecting the FIG’s rules. The place was not nominative and the Federation therefore had the free choice to select and register at their discretion.
3. We confirm that the name change from Thema Williams to Marisa Dick was duly made by the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation, respecting the FIG’s rules (including time limits) which allow such a change.
4. We confirm that Marisa Dick has successfully competed at the qualifying event in Rio and has obtained a nominative place to participate at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
5. This place must be confirmed by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee as soon as possible, but no later than May 9, 2016. Failure to do so will result in the automatic invitation of the next best ranked All-Around athlete from the qualifying event in Rio (1st Reserve).
6. Since the qualification place earned by Marisa Dick is nominative, no name change or replacement is possible.