I was subjected to a special privilege by the IOF: I received an honorary mention with full name in the XXX. IOF Congress documents in one of the reports.
This is no small thing. A casual glance suggests that I might be the only one with no IOF function or candidacy who was subjected to this privilege. This comes within few months after the President of the IOF has mentioned my name in his speech on the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Hungarian Orienteering Federation as one of those who made a significant contribution to international orienteering.
I am flattered.
Some naysayers may point out that being mentioned in the activities report of the Ethics Panel is not flattering, but a mention is a mention. Some may even take the view that it was not ethical that the Ethics Panel named only me of all the involved in the five different cases investigated; especially considering that the Ethics Panel acquitted me of breaching the IOF Code of Ethics.
I cannot disagree more with the last suggestion questioning the ethics of the Ethics Panel. Bob Dredge, the Chairman of the IOF Ethics Panel, to whom I return hereby the honour of being mentioned by full name, is the most ethical person in the world of orienteering (by definition), and his actions are the pinnacle of ethical behaviour (by definition). Case closed.
A landmark case
My legal representative, the cynic he is, pointed out that it was not me who was subjected to the honorary mention. It is a long standing legal practice in case law to refer to landmark cases by the name of the parties involved. Many heard about the case of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision of the US Supreme Court; or the case of Socrates, who was sentenced to death for being a social and moral critic, and instead of upholding a status quo, questioning the collective notion of “might makes right”.
The investigation of my blog was a landmark case, the first attempt by the IOF to use the powers of the Ethics Panel to silence a journalistic activity for asking inconvenient questions.
I am most grateful that I avoided the faith of the Greek philosopher despite committing rather similar sins of asking inconvenient questions and challenging the decisions and wisdom of people in elected office.
My legal representative also pointed out that the IOF Ethics Panel has to be applauded for their open and honest communication.
The IOF Ethics Panel declared (indirectly) that
• details do not matter,
• due process is irrelevant, and
• decisions are based on feel.
This may not be obvious for the ones not familiar with this very case, so I would like to help to explain the reasons why my legal representative was so impressed by the honesty of the IOF Ethics Panel.
Details do not matter
Despite the case of this blog is listed in the Ethics Panel report to the IOF Congress as one of the five referrals received, there is nothing published of this case on the page of the IOF Ethics Panel. To be precise, it is not even stated that there was a case regarding this blog.
The only place where you can learn about this case is here on this blog. This is understandable considering that the Ethics Panel could not even come up with a specific allegation of wrongdoing during the 8 month long process.
By listing the case in their report without publishing any details, the IOF Ethics Panel has clearly declared that details did not really matter in this instance.
Due process is irrelevant
The report of the IOF Ethics Panel implies that the case against this blog went through a full hearing. This is suggested also by stating under the case of the China World Cup that it “did not proceed to a full hearing”, but no similar statement for the case of this blog.
Yet, there was no formal hearing in the case of this blog. In his email of 24 February 2019 the Chairman of the Ethics Panel emphasised that the Panel was “seeking information to form a view as to whether a formal Panel Hearing is warranted”. It was never communicated that the case has moved to the stage of a formal Panel Hearing. The lack of any report on the web page of the Ethics Panel also suggests no formal Panel Hearing.
It is refreshing in many ways to see that the Ethics Panel did not get bogged down in the details of drawing lines between information gathering to decide whether a formal hearing was required, and a formal decision making process. Decisions on cases of ethics are noble tasks and should not be dragged down to the level of soulless bureaucratic nitty gritty like declaring formal panel hearings.
There were many more wonderful details around the whole process detailed in my earlier posts. My legal adviser referred to the overall process as “funny”. He particularly enjoyed that the reputable Ethics Panel demanded “clear factual evidence” to allegations they could not even specify.
Decisions based on feel
Typically, judicial bodies in the democratic part of the world are keen on projecting objectivity in their decisions. They try to cite specific points of the law, and stress the logic of their decision making process, no matter how vague or questionable that might be. They try to emphasise that decisions are objective, and not based on subjective feelings.
It takes a special courage to openly declare, as the IOF Ethics Panel did in their report, that their decision was based on feel. They did not feel the code was breached, they did not feel like imposing sanctions.
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I believe that we have to be proud of the IOF Ethics Panel. An Ethics Panel so open and honest would be the joy and pride of any sports organisation.