By Edison Jefford
The Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) has issued a release, stating its suspension of the Linden Amateur Basketball Association (LABA) is to remain in full force until it accepts the Federation’s decision on Dwayne ‘Sugar’ Roberts.
“The suspension of LABA is to remain in full force and effect until they have conveyed to GABF that its decision has been accepted and the player is permitted to participate in all LABA
activities that are open to others,” the Federation stated.
The national Federation wrote the LABA on Sunday, informing them of its suspension decision as a result of the Linden subsidiary’s failure to comply with a decision the Federation had made to reinstate Roberts following a disciplinary hearing.
The national federation had convened a disciplinary hearing for Roberts following his infraction last year where he was accused of reportedly throwing a basketball that “injured” referee, Lloyd Ross during a Retrieve Raiders versus Kings game in the BOSAI Minerals Open Challenge.
Roberts was initially banned for six months from basketball and all related activities and fined $15,000. It was increased to six years in January when he was accused of publicly accosting the long-standing LABA Secretary, Joseph Chapman at the MSC Court, after which, Roberts sought the intervention of the Federation.
The GABF yesterday released details of the hearing that cleared Roberts. The Federation noted that it convened an independent blue-ribbon panel comprising of Chairperson, Attorney-at-Law, Emily Dodson, Sports Personality, Neil Barry and Guyana Defense Force, Major, Kenlloyd Roberts to hear the appeal of Roberts on May 2 this year.
Following are the findings of the panel:
(a) Condemnation of the conflict of interest and the appearance of bias as the complaining witness, Joe Chapman, signed all of LABA’s correspondence after the December 30, 2012, hearing. Specifically “no person involved in the hearing should have any involvement in the disciplinary process… It may have been felt that Mr. Chapman had a vested interest in the outcome… He ought to have recused himself from further participation in the disciplinary process…”
(b) “There is a well-established common law concept that disciplinary procedures must satisfy the requirements of natural justice. Natural justice means fairness in all aspects, i.e. disciplinary procedures/rules must be fair, clear and transparent in the way they are set up and in their application which must also be consistent.”
(c) “The suspension for six years was felt to be grossly excessive and while sports associations must have the right to discipline those who contravene the rules, the punishment must be proportionate to the offence.”
(d) “The Committee opined that justice was not served to the Appellant and that in the interests of justice the six year suspension and the $15,000 fine against the Appellant Dwayne Roberts be and is hereby quashed. The Appellant is permitted to participate in any LABA sanctioned basketball activities after May 13, 2013.”
However, Chapman is contending that the Disciplinary Committee that was set up to intervene in Roberts’ issue was illegal, and as such, the LABA will not submit to its ruling. According to the correspondence this newspaper has seen, Chapman believe the GABF acted unconstitutionally at best when it set up the disciplinary hearing.
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