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I am aware that in the case of the hon. Lady’s constituent, Mr. Edwards, his doping violations occurred before those model rules were in place. However, I also understand that the processes to which he was subject in accordance with his right to a hearing and an appeal complied with the requirements set out in the model rules. In Mr. Edwards’s case, the evidence was subject to
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an independent review and a disciplinary hearing was conducted by the then British Athletics Federation in 1998, followed by an appeal hearing by the BAF in 2000. Those processes were in line with the requirements.

Mr. Edwards has seen three further reviews of his case—by UK Sport in 2002, 2004 and 2005, drawing on advice from those with scientific expertise in the area of anti-doping—and the International Amateur Athletics Federation considered his case in 2006. Moreover, as the hon. Lady said, the case was debated in the House back in 2002, in another Adjournment debate. I shall do my best not to repeat what was said then, as it is already on record.

Mrs. Miller: May I remind the Minister of the letter that I received from his colleague on 9 May 2006? Far from suggesting that the door had shut, it suggested that the case was still under review, and advised me on how to support my constituent. I understand what the Minister is saying, but it seems to be slightly at odds with what his colleague told me.

Mr. Sutcliffe: As I told the hon. Lady earlier, I have examined the case in great detail. I am trying to set out clearly what we believe to be the route that must be followed. She is right about the way in which some organisations have dealt with the issue, but I am talking about what happened in Mr. Edwards’s case. It is a complex case, which has been the subject of a great deal of correspondence between the hon. Lady and her predecessor and my predecessor.

The hon. Lady has referred to the scientific evidence and arguments behind the case. I am not a scientist—I do not know whether the hon. Lady is—and we have to rely on the experts who examine such cases day in, day out. My role as a Minister responsible for sport is to ensure that the correct structures, programmes and processes are in place to ensure that our athletes compete in a drug-free environment, and, when that is found not to be the case, to ensure that they have recourse to a fair appeal. Fundamental to any anti-doping programme are three key elements: robustness, consistency and fairness. In looking at Mr. Edwards’s case, I am convinced that those three elements have been met. As the hon. Lady will have heard my predecessor say, it is not the role of the Minister for Sport to intervene in individual doping cases. When an athlete is found to be in violation of the anti-doping code, it is the responsibility of that athlete's national governing body and the international federation to decide what action to take, in line with the procedures set out in the world anti-doping code, and in the UK's national anti-doping policy. Again, I understand that the correct processes have been followed in this case. I have no remit to act outside of those, as has been set out in my previous correspondence. There is no mechanism by which we can become involved.

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In the last letter from my predecessor, dated 23 January 2007, the advice given was that the Court of Arbitration for Sport would be the final route of appeal for the hon. Lady’s constituent. That advice was also given in the previous Adjournment debate in 2002. Therefore, I am a little surprised that Mr. Edwards has not taken the opportunity to go to that court.

Mrs. Miller: I thank the Minister for giving way; he is being very generous. He may recall from my earlier remarks that I wrote to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to ask whether it was able to review the case. It said that it was not within its jurisdiction to do that. In the letter that I received from his predecessor, the indication was that the process is to go to the International Association of Athletics Federations, but the IAAF does not agree with the Government that that is the process. Going back to the Minister’s earlier remarks about there being procedures in place, it seems not to be a strong argument. I am not sure that he is right.

Mr. Sutcliffe: I am trying to go through the matter in great detail. I have asked for the details of the case to see what could be done and if anything needed to be done, but I have been assured that the processes that have been in place have given Mr. Edwards every opportunity under the existing codes and guidelines to put his case. I am advised that the Court of Arbitration for Sport is the final route. Clearly, the hon. Lady has had a different view from the court. If we need to pursue that, I give her the undertaking that that is what we will do to clarify the route. It is not for a Minister to act on behalf of an individual. I understand that it is not just a letter that needs to be sent; the details of the appeal have to be sent, too. We are saying that that is the final route that Mr. Edwards has to go through. I hope that that is helpful to the hon. Lady. If it is not, she and I will have to get together. I am happy to do that to sort out the final route, if that is appropriate.

Fairness for all athletes must be the fundamental principle of any anti-doping system. From what I have been told, I am confident that Mr. Edwards has received fair treatment, notwithstanding the final appeal. The reviews that have taken place have been concluded to my satisfaction in terms of the detail that has been given to me. I believe that it is now time to move on to face future challenges. Clearly, with the route that I have outlined, that will be the final act, as it were, in terms of what we are able to do.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising the case. I hope that I have clarified to some extent some of the issues that she faces. I will work with her to clarify the final route of appeal.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at eight minutes past Ten o’clock.

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