Koetle sues Olympic Committee

Koetle sues Olympic Committee

MASERU – Lioli midfielder Tšoanelo Koetle, who refused to be tested for doping last year, has sued the Lesotho National Olympic Committee.
The case will be heard in the High Court on March 1.
In an urgent application filed in the High Court two weeks ago, a day before he was supposed to appear before a disciplinary tribunal, the Lioli star asks for the staying of his disciplinary hearing pending finalisation of the application.

Koetle, who is also a member of the senior national squad Likuena, asks the High Court to direct the Olympic Committee and the tribunal chairman to dispatch the record of proceedings in his case within 14 days of receipt of the court order.

He also wants the court to set aside as irregular and unlawful the tribunal chairperson’s ruling that he was guilty of refusing to be tested for doping.
The tribunal’s chairman, Zimbabwean national Ringisai Mapondera, had also suspended him from football until his disciplinary case is finalised after Koetle did not appear before the tribunal on February 7.

According to papers filed in court, Koetle disobeyed a National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO)’s official, Thabo Tšoaeli, by refusing “to submit to testing”.

“You are provisionally suspended with immediate effect from all competitions including training sessions with other athletes until this matter has been resolved,” his suspension letter, signed on November 14 last year, reads in part.

On December 8 the Africa Zone VI Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) formally charged Koetle with violating anti-doping rules of the World Anti-Doping Code.

The Lioli midfielder was also advised that if he did not attend the hearing the regional anti-doping organisation would “recommend the maximum sanction of four (4) year ban”.
On December 12, his lawyers Phoofolo Associates Inc, wrote to RADO chairman Andrew Kamanga saying Lioli had appointed them to represent Koetle.
The hearing was to be on December 14.
Attorney Moeketsi Rampai wrote that the anti-doping guidelines were “not readily available to the charged player and or Lioli Football Club as an interested party in the proceedings”.

The lawyers applied for postponement of the hearing “in order to enable us to fully prepare for defence of our client”.
“We want to emphasise that this is not a run of the mill case which should be conducted in a hasty manner as it impacts on his career as a professional should he be found guilty as charged,” Rampai said.

Kamanga agreed to postpone the hearing to January 4, 2018.
Koetle challenged the suitability of Kamanga as the chairman because he is a member of the executive committee of the Olympic Committee.
Kamanga was withdrawn from the panel.
On February 1 the hearing proceeded and Koetle challenged the constitution of the tribunal panel again, saying Anti-Doping Rules had not been followed.

The ruling however said on February 7 the matter would proceed to finality on February 7, 2018 and the panel did not give any reasons.
Attorney Monaheng Rasekoai, also from Phoofolo and Associates, demanded written reasons but in vain.
That was when Koetle and Lioli decided to file the urgent application in the High Court.

In his affidavit, Koetle says it is abnormal that he is charged with contravening the Olympic Committee’s anti-doping rules but on the other hand the applicable rules in the hearing are of the Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO).
“This in itself amounts to a gross irregularity which strikes at the heart of the matter and which must be interdicted lest I suffer irreparable harm,” Koetle says.

“I aver that voluntary organisations are duty-bound to adhere to their rules as enunciated in the constitution,” he says.
Koetle argues that he is not a member of RADO and that also Lioli as well as the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) are not members of the Olympic Committee.
He says the panel does not have jurisdictional powers to discipline him.
He argues that he is being subjected “to answer charges of breach of rules of one association when at the same time I cannot defend myself by relying on the rules of the same association but another of which I am not even a member” without the concurrence of LEFA.
“In any event, even the purported suspension is ineffective if not irregular as it was also authorised by a person who does not have the power to do so,” he says.

Koetle says he is a national team player and the repercussions of his purported suspension and prospective banning can have severe consequences not only to himself but the national team as well.
Attached to the court papers is the supporting affidavit of Lioli president Lebohang Thotanyana.

Thotanyana argues that following the purported suspension of Koetle, other teams playing in the premier league have lodged protests against Lioli on account of this irregular suspension.
He says this has negatively affected the player’s performance due to the controversy surrounding his suspension and says as the star player of the team, the club’s performance has generally deteriorated.

Luciah Phahla & Nkheli Liphoto

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