Johaug should have paid the lawyers herself

A weeping skier Therese Johaug at Thursday's press conferenceOslo.A weeping skier Therese Johaug at Thursday's press conference.Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

Johaug ought to have paid the lawyers herself

The tax returns clearly show why it is necessary to differentiate legal aid in doping cases: Therese Johaug has assets close to NOK 50 million. her taxable income in 2016 was at NOK 3.1 million, despite not being allowed to compete.

 

One of the reasons she is making this kind of money stems from a clothes collection with her name on it, a part of the Active Brands umbrella, a company that has very close ties to the Norwegian Skiing Federation.

Despite being this rich, she is able to cover her attorney’s bills regarding her doping case before not only the Norwegian Sports Union (NIF) judicial committee, but also before the International Sports Arbitration Tribunal (CAS).

We do not yet know what the final bill for this will be, but we are not talking about small change, and the sports must divide the bill one way or the another. At the same time, we see that lack of funds has been used as a reason for not sending athletes abroad, and that for several reasons the economy of NIF is very strained.

There’s something fundamentally wrong when filthy rich athletes are funded by the sports community for legal aid. This week it was made clear that the board of directors will look into whether they will introduce a bill requiring a need for support as a principle for the amount that NIF will reimburse.

In a well founded statement, Vice-President, Kristin Kloster Aasen, explained what the purpose of providing legal assistance should be – it regards what is reasonable and necessary to ensure fair trial.

it is reasonable that athletes without means should receive free legal help. No one shall be deprived the right of proper defense which they can not afford. A change will not have retroactive effect, and this means that multi millionaires, like Therese Johaug, gets their defense covered by the common man.

How reasonable is that?

One of the arguments used to defend the spending of money on Johaug is that she “trusted the doctor” and was given the cream by an representative of the federation.

That reasoning is weak for several reasons:

Both the regulations and the verdict clearly state that the athlete is solely responsible for what is present in the body and there is no possibility to place this responsibility on others. It is Therese Johaug, and no one else, who ultimately has the legal responsibility for her ingesting an anabolic steroid, it is therefore fishy that her expenses for attorney’s fees should affect other sports activities.

If the skiing federation really believes that this is their responsibility to such an extent that they are liable to fork out millions on behalf of those convicted, it is notable that not one single leader has taken responsibility and left their office.

Presently being left out of the national team, Johaug also incurs numerous costs, but that has very limited relevance to the fairness of covering her lawyer’s bills.

The Tax return figures presented today show that there are a lot of sports figures besides Therese Johaug who has enough to put salt on their food: Alexander Kristoff, Magnus Carlsen, Marit Bjørgen, Patrick Thoresen, Petter Northug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby are among those well provided for.

But these are the exceptions – the regular athlete does not get rich from what they are doing. The ones without a well filled wallet are the ones who need a safety net if they should ever experience the worst thing that can happen to them, a doping case.

At an otherwise bad time, where the doping suspension affects everyday life, the skier from Dalsbygda can look forward to an ever increasing future.Now it’s rare that tax returns shows the complete picture, but the figures that are now revealed further substantiate how extremely economically well Johaug is posed:

Her fortune is at NOK 48 633 671 and grows by the minute

 

© LEIF WELHAVEN  / Vg.no / Norway Today

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