Secretary to the Ministry of Sports, Anura Jayawickrema says that the Board of Control for the proposed Sri Lanka Ant-Doping Agency will be named in the coming week.
Will this be another institution which functions as per the prerogative of the Subject Minister?
A subject that has been constantly highlighted by the Bitter Truth is whether sport governance is being made a dictatorship via the enhancing of the powers of the Minister of Sports through the introduction of new orders for Sports Associations.
On August 30 the Ministry of Sports introduced an amendment to the new orders for sports associations, further strengthening the minister’s ability to interfere. As per the amended order, the Sports Minister now has the ability to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting, General Meeting or Committee Meeting of any Sports Association at any given time.
Two months after the introduction of this amendment, the Bill prohibiting the use of performance enhancers in sport was tabled in Parliament. The powers that have been vested in the Minister through this Bill, cannot be disregarded.
Attorney-at-Law, Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa stated,
“A problematic situation has arisen through the introduction of this bill on the basis of the needs of several persons, without having any dialogue first. The punishments are the most important factor here. If any individual is caught using performance enhancers then their case would be heard in the high courts. If they are found guilty in the high court then they can be sentenced to two years of rigorous imprisonment and be ordered to pay a fine of up to 500,000 rupees. They can also be banned from the sport for life. A concept that is accepted in law is that the punishment must fit the crime. However, this bill violates this fundamental concept. The other problematic situation here is that the Minister has limitless powers when it comes to naming the Board of Control for this Agency.
The proposed Sri Lanka Anti Doping Agency will comprise of a Board of Control of ten members, responsible for all management and administrative affairs.
The Minister has been vested with the power to appoint six members of the Board, including the chairperson.
It is also notable that the Minister of Sports has the power to directly issue orders to the other members of the Board, who are the nominee of the Secretary to the Ministry of Sports, the Director General of Sports Development, the Director General of the Sports Medicine Institute, and the Director General of the National Sports Science Institute.
Against this backdrop, can one expect sound judgment to be passed in a matter as sensitive as the use of performance enhancers? Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Sports, Panduka Keerthinanda, said that the Minister of Sports does not have the power to appoint the members of the board as per his prerogative.
He said that as per the provisions of the bill, the Minister of Sports could only appoint persons who have exceptional achievements in the fields of law, sports medicine and sports science.
Although experts may be chosen for this agency, won’t final determinations be subject to the prerogative of the Minister of Sports.
What guarantee can be given that the Minister of Sports will use his powers solely for the progress of sport?
Open for debate..