Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - LatestNews
Fifth Man Added To Canadian World Junior Team

Following the World Junior trials in Charlo, New Brunswick, on January 5, 6, and 8, a team of four men and five women was nominated on the National Ski Team for the World Junior Championships (WJC) to be held in Schonach, Germany, January 22 to 27, 2002.

 In view of the nomination of a fifth women for the WJC, Ski de fond Québec argued that the selection committee fell into error in reaching its decision and in breaking the selection criteria in favour of the fifth women. Ski de fond Québec, on behalf of Jonathan Blais (the fifth ranked men in the trials), formally appeal that decision on January 11, requesting that the fifth men be added to the team.

 According to  CCC Appeal Policy, a panel of three arbitrators was nominated, and the appeal was heard on Wednesday evening, following the exchange of written submissions between the parties. The arbitrators nominated to hear the appeal included Mr. Alain Masson (coach Yukon), Mr. Laurent Roux (ex-National training centre coach), and Ms. Milaine Thériault (Olympian athlete). Mr. Léopold Nadeau acted as the clerk.

 THE CASE
 In short, SFQ argued that in the process of selecting a fifth women, the Selection committee

-          broke the maximum team size of 4 women and  4 men published in the selection criteria,

-          exercise its discretion for an improper purpose,

-          made a decision which was influenced by bias,

-          made a decision inequitable for the fifth men,

in consideration of which SFQ requested that the fifth men be added to the team.

 In counterpart, in view of the fundamental task of all selection committees that is to select as many athletes as possible within the confines of the stated criteria, the NSTC argued that :

-          the selection of the fifth women was justified given the virtual tie (0.05selection points; see Complementary note below) between the fourth and fifth positions.

-          in reaching its decision, the selection committee did not exercise improperly its allowable discretion, namely in view of the fact that if two athletes tie for a bronze medal at the Olympic Games based on tenths of a second, then both athletes receive a bronze medal.

THE DECISION

As stated below, the Appeal Panel reported that :

1)      The panel considers that the decision of  the selection committee was done in all fairness and impartiality, and in accordance with the selection criteria. We recognized the difficulty in taking such a decision. The panel does not doubt of the integrity and professionalism of any of the selection committee members.

 2)      The selection committee has nominated a fifth female on the WJT in view of the virtual tie in selection points between the fourth and the fifth positions. The panel did not find any guideline in the documentation that defines what a tie is, or is not. The panel did not consider appropriate nor as part of his role to define what a tie is (or is not), and return this question to the NSTC for future discussion.

 3)      In the absence of a clear-cut criterion for tie, and in view of the fact that the fifth male can arguably be considered very closed to the fourth qualified male skier, we would like the NST to extend its generosity to include the fifth male skier on the WJT.

 We considered that the close point situation found in these selection races likely resulted from the use of gentle courses due to a lack of snow.

 4)      In view of the present case and of the recent Olympic men relay controversy, we feel that it is unfair to put our Head Coaches in positions where they may be criticized following selection processes, because their job places them in apparent conflict of interests. To minimize this, we feel that it is very important to include independent members on all CCC decision-making committees, namely for athlete selection processes.

 
OUTCOME
In view of  the recommendations from the Appeal Panel, the NSTC has nominated Jonathan Blais on the NST for the World Junior Championships. All logistical arrangements were immediately made and Jonathan is presently on its way to Schonach, Germany.  

Complementary note :
 In accordance to the published selection criteria for the WJC, the athlete performance in the selection race as ranked in ‘CPL international points’ were used as ‘selection points’.  The ‘selection points’ do not correspond directly to ‘percentage to winner’ as published in the race results. In the present case, the 0.05 selection points difference between the fourth and fifth women position corresponds to 1.68 seconds after 50 minutes racing, while the 0.26 selection point difference between the fourth and fifth men position corresponds to 4 seconds over 23 minutes. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The CCC president would like to thank Ms. Milaine Thériault, Mr. Alain Masson and Mr. Laurent Roux for their willingness in dealing with this issue. Thanks are also extended to Mr. Stéphane Barrette for his contribution  to the high performance program. We CCC are also much indebted to the members of the NST committee, and in particular to Mr. Tomas Holland (chair) for his tactful and passionate leadership of the NST program under conditions that are frequently arduous or thorny. Finally, I would like to extend my best wishes to all the athletes representing Canada at the World Junior Championships.

 Léopold Nadeau

President


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