IT has been almost a month since Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli blew the chance to retain his men’s F20 (intellectual disability) shot putt Paralympics gold in Tokyo but the controversial issue has yet to die down.
I’m surprised that the Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu is now stirring up the hornet’s nest.
Faizal revealed in a Dewan Rakyat sitting this week that they were mulling over the possibility of taking Ziyad’s case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if their appeal to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and World Para Athletics (WPA) falls on deaf ears.
Now, let me take you through to what happened in Tokyo on Malaysia’s 64th Independence Day.
Ziyad won the gold with a world-record haul of 17.94m but minutes later the title and record were revoked.
The nation was in a state of shock as it would have been a perfect Merdeka Day gift.
The 31-year-old was classified as ‘did not start’ (DNS) following a protest by the Ukrainian team, who claimed that he reported late to the call room prior to the event.
Given the lack of correct information from official sources, it did not come as a surprise when netizens vented out their fury on social media, demeaning the Ukraine side, who had benefited from Ziyad’s disqualification.
Paralympic Council of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Megat D. Shahriman Zaharudin appeared the next day in a media call but only read out a statement, vowing to do his best to fight for Ziyad.
Why fight a losing battle?
Ziyad was initially denied access to the competition area after he arrived three minutes late to enter the call room.
Ziyad, together with Australia’s Todd Hodgetts and Ecuador’s Jordi Patricio Congo Villalba were allowed to compete under protest after their respective team pleaded with the organisers but were later deemed DNS after the protest
Let’s go through the facts.
*They were late. They may have had a logical reason for being late and therefore were allowed to compete while the jury looked at the facts at hand.
*The referee had determined after the event “there was no justifiable reason for the athletes’ failure to report” on time.
*The athletes appealed for the decision to be reversed by the Jury of Appeal. They however, upheld the referee’s decision and confirmed the athletes’ results as DNS.
So, I hope our Sports Minister will just rest their case on this and move on.
First of all, it is almost impossible for the IPC to overturn the decision as medals have already been handed out and the results had been endorsed officially.
Secondly, it will not come cheap for the Youth and Sports Ministry to bring the case to the CAS as the legal fees alone can run into RM1mil easily.
Not to mention the court fees as CAS is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It would be better for the ministry to allocate the amount for development as some sports body have been struggling as their budget had been cut down despite producing results.
It is imperative that we learn from this incident. Everyone – from athletes to team officials, they must practise good timekeeping habits after this.
Ziyad himself has accepted his fate and has promised to bounce back stronger.
Ziyad has moved on. Why can’t the rest?