Sunday, July 23, 2006

Biased Decisions In The Paralympic Committee

Nancy Burpee who is a world class swimmer made an attempt to participate in the 2004 Paralympic Games that was held in Athens, Greece since the United States team was selected at the US Olmpic trials. Ms. Burpee already had world records in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle at the trials held in Minnesota.

Now here is the catch, Ms. Burpee was disqualified by an Australian referee on a procedural techicality. After her disqualification, Ms. Burpee called Mr. Kevin Simmons, who is a partner at Simmons, Jannace, & Stagg and asked the law firm to intercede on her behalf to veto the disqualification. She also asked that the firm take action against the United States Olympic Committee to require that the committee name her to the Olmpic team. The law firm represented Ms. Burpee on a pro bono basis.

The law firm then began arbitration under the United States Olympic Committee Rules and live testimony was taken from swim referees in Canada and Australia. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg stated that the Australian referee showed bias against Ms. Burpee by making various comments meaning that this Australian referee did not want Ms. Burpee competing against an Australian paralympic swimmer. The law firm also stated that the United States Paralympic swim trials were not held in accordance with the paralympic rules.

Unfortunately even with all these efforts, an independent arbitrator ruled against Ms. Burpee and declined to force the United States Olympic Committee to name her to the Paralympic Team. Ms. Burpee has moved on and is continuing with her swimming career and will compete in the World Championships in the upcoming year.

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