ISA trips over its own rules

We usually do not pick up stories from the surf world, but this one is different. We been covering the ISA since they started SUP World Champion Ships in 2013 and the athlete involved in the story is a personal friend of ours. Being on the distribution of the ISA Newsletter we get all sorts of for us irrelevant news, but this one cough our attention:

Erin Brooks Padang Padang 2022, she was 14 years old. Foto: @lawrence_photo @liquidbarrel

California, USA – June 27 2023

The ISA Executive Committee (EC) has today examined the case of the nationality of the athlete, Erin Brooks.

In March 2022, Surfing Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee requested Ms Brooks be allowed to compete for Canada, as her citizenship application had been filed, but not completed.

A decision was made by the ISA administration to grant this request, based on assurances received from the Canadian Olympic Committee and Surfing Canada that the citizenship was in process. The petition was approved without proper consultation of the ISA Executive Committee (EC) and the ISA President.

Following further analysis of the case in recent days, the ISA EC concluded that this decision was taken incorrectly and not in accordance with the applicable ISA Rules. According to the applicable ISA Rules and the documentation available at that time, the request by the Canadian Olympic Committee and Surfing Canada should have been rejected.

Furthermore, it has now come to the attention of the ISA EC that in fact Ms. Brooks’ citizenship has still not been established. As a result, the EC has decided that Ms. Brooks’ eligibility to compete for Canada has been suspended with immediate effect.

In the meantime, should the Canadian sport authorities be able to provide proof of citizenship with a verified document from the Canadian government, the ISA EC will re-evaluate her eligibility for Canada, in accordance with the applicable ISA rules.

The ISA takes responsibility for the administrative error made so we would like to express our deep regret and offer our apologies to Ms. Brooks and her family for the impact this case may have on her personally – with the hope that this case of her citizenship will be resolved promptly.

The ISA EC has been seeking legal counsel on this issue and will continue to do so in terms of next steps and consequences of this case.

We have been watching Erin competing at the ISA for 3 years now and she has been killing it. We are also well aware of the ISA vetting process, that one who likes to compete must proof citizenship. Even you do no not hold a passport of your country, which can be the case if you are an Ex-Pat kid, a proof of citizenship must be provided in form of writing. In her case an application seemed to have been enough. Erin’s success story makes good PR for everybody involved.

The last senescence in this statement raises a question: Why does the ISA need to seek legal counsel? The case seems to be pretty straight forward and in the legal world there is a credo: Ubi non accusator, ibi non iudex! In English: No plaintiff, no judge!

In the world of SUP, Wing and Foil we are not yet dealing with these mechanisms, but once the Olympic path is set, athletes do look for citizenship in countries they have heritage of other than the one they are born in. Countries are also often happy to hand out citizenships to athletes if it furthers their reputation in the sport. We seen quite a bit of athletes assuming a passport of a country that might give them an edge in qualifying for certain international event. This is not uncommon, why the ISA did let that one slide for so long and now prohibiting Erin from further competition seem not fair to us on her behalf.