The long awaited Ethics Panel decisions on the China events in October 2019 have been published yesterday on the IOF website. These are important not only because of the specific rulings regarding the events in question, but also for their implicit guidance to the whole international orienteering community.
As discussed earlier, in the view of the IOF Ethics Panel the IOF Code of Ethics applies to everybody without limitation in time, who has ever touched a map or saw a runner with map in hand. Hence, it is everybody’s obligation in the orienteering community to read, discuss and understand the decisions of the Ethics Panel that provide the interpretation of the high level text of the Code of Ethics for practical situations. They are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
There was little surprise in the overall decisions of the Ethics Panel: the proven cheaters of the Military World Games were banned, while the request to investigate strange results of the World Cup was politely declined. Yet, there were several important elements of the decisions that set precedents for future cases:
- The IOF Ethics Panel confirmed that they see their jurisdiction covering events and athletes with no formal ties to the IOF, just because they engage in an activity called orienteering;
- The IOF Ethics Panel may not only conduct a trial in absentia, but according to their report it seems that may make even no effort to contact the individuals subject to their investigation, thus one may get sanctioned without given a chance to defend themselves;
- The plea of acting “under orders” is a strong mitigating factor for cheating athletes, at least when they are associated with military organisations;
- The IOF Ethics Panel keeps using undisclosed (maybe even unwritten) procedural rules to decide on cases, especially when it comes to the standard of proof required;
- The IOF Ethics Panel encourages the IOF Council to regulate social media through fair play rules;
- The IOF Ethics Panel is not transparent in their activities; some lengthy investigations may never get disclosed for reasons unknown, yet inconvenience the subjects of the investigation.
Though it has been shown in connection to this blog that even asking questions in IOF related matters may result in a lengthy investigation by the IOF Ethics Panel, yet the imperative to become more ethical through the study of the decisions of the Ethics Panel shall make this risk worthwhile.
Let’s look at the details: