Thema Williams’ hopes of circumventing her controversial deselection from the Rio 2016 Olympic Test event, at the hands of the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastic Federation (TTGF), were a sliver to begin with.
They look even thinner now, as it appears that the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) is not eligible to plead her case to the IOC’s Tripartite Commission.
Williams’ legal team, which is headed by Keith Scotland and Dr Emir Crowne, said last Wednesday that they would press the TTOC to petition the Tripartite Commission, which might have been the best chance of inserting the 20 year old gymnast into the August Olympics.
However, it has since emerged that the TTOC might be ineligible to attempt that route, according to a clause in the Allocation Procedure and Regulations of the Tripartite Commission, which, under “NOC (National Olympic Commission) Eligibility” states that: “Invitation Places can only be allocated to NOCs with an average of eight or less athletes (athlete quota places) in individual sports/disciplines at the last two editions of the Olympic Games (Beijing and London).”
Just Trinidad and Tobago’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams in the past two Olympics—10 members in Beijing and 11 in London—alone exceed that number, without even considering the TTOC’s other field athletes, swimmers, cyclists and so forth.
Not to mention the fact that the Tripartite Commission already handed in its list of invited gymnasts for the Rio Games on Tuesday April 26, which was a day before Williams’ press conference. Those names were only made public by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) on Thursday April 28.
Panamanian Isabella del Carmen Amado was awarded a spot on what may be the final list for the Rio Olympics women’s artistic gymnastics event.
As it turns out, the TTOC, almost certainly, would have been unable to approach the IOC on Williams’ behalf anyway.
Yesterday, FIG Secretary General André Gueisbuhler made it clear that, as far as the international body was concerned, Williams had no chance.
“Since the qualification place earned by Marisa Dick is nominative,” stated Gueisbuhler, “no name change or replacement is possible.”
It means the only option left for Williams—in theory—would appear to be an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). However, according to one legal source, it would be “extraordinary”, if CAS lobbied the IOC for inclusion for an athlete.
Williams can still seek redress against the TTGF. But her chances of overturning the local body’s controversial decision to pull her from the Olympics looks desperately slim.
The TTGF is comprised of: president David Marquez, general secretary Elicia Peters-Charles, first vice president Akil Wattley, second vice president, Ricardo Lue Shue, treasurer Susanne Babooram and Lue Shue’s wife, Donna Lue Shue, who serves as assistant treasurer.
The TTOC’s games management committee of Annette Knott, Ian Hypolite, Diane Henderson and Dr Terry Ali meets the TTGF at midday today. Because of the volatility of the matter, it is likely that TTOC president Brian Lewis will also be in attendance.
“When the games management committee meets, there will be a particular checklist they will go through,” said Lewis, in a previous interview. “They will check things like athlete eligibility, age requirements, the qualification standard established by FIG…
“The process under which an alternate could change…”
The TTOC has promised a ruling by Monday on whether or not it will take up its sole gymnastics spot at the Rio Olympics Games.
The next 48 hours will be nerve-wracking for Williams and Dick.
Should the TTOC decline the FIG spot at the Olympics, Azerbaijan gymnast Marina Nekrasova will go to Rio de Janeiro in Trinidad and Tobago’s place.