Tigresses cleared in Malawi netball pregnancy saga

The Malawi National Council of Sports has cleared Tigresses of any wrongdoing as regards their disqualification from the Presidential Championships at the Police head quarters in Lilongwe over a fortnight ago after their player Laureen Ngwira failed a pregnancy test.

In its ruling made on Wednesday,  Sports Counci faulted the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) for failing to apply laws that are consistent with their constitution when they disqualified Tigresses.

The determination was made by a panel headed by  lawyer Patrice Nkhono alongside Yasin Osman, Krishna Achuthan and Griffins Longwe.

NAM on 21 September, 2013  docked  points and suspended Tigresses  from further participation in the 2013 Presidential Initiative on Sports Netball Competition which was held from 20 to 22 September, 2013 at Area 30 in Lilongwe for featuring  a pregnant player.

Lauren Ngwira says she never failed pregnancy test...Photo Jeromy Kadewere

Lauren Ngwira says she never failed pregnancy test…Photo Jeromy Kadewere

Tigresses  was scheduled to play a quarter final match in the competition against MAFCO Netball Club when  Abigail Shariff ,the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) Treasurer arrived and demanded that a Tigresses goalkeeper , Lauren Ngwira, accompany her to a clinic for a pregnancy test where she was said to have tested positive as being pregnant.

Since the player  had played for Tigresses in their earlier group matches against Karonga and Kasungu Netball Teams in that order, the NAM Executive Committee decided Tigresses would forfeit four (4) points and suffer a loss of 100 baskets to 0 in each of the two earlier group matches.

The development angered Tigresses players, who were involved in exchange of words with Nam officials before refusing to vacate the field of play to allow other teams proceed  with  other fixtures.

Nam was forced to abandon the finals slated for another day but after docking points from Tigresses and imposing a ban for them.

Tigresses  challenged Nam  on the grounds that it did not have the power to dock any points from them on the ground that Article 37.3.2 of the NAM Constitution provides for a fine only and that NAM was not entitled to use the rule in the Competition Rules that appeared to empower them to take that decision because it conflicted with Article 37.3.2 of the NAM Constitution.

In their determination, the panel ruled that NAM had no power under its Constitution to dock four  points or at all against Tigresses for fielding a pregnant player or to award those points to an opposing team.

Regarding the player who was allegedly pregnant when she played in the competition , NAM should, according to its Constitution, carry out an appropriate disciplinary hearing and make its decision accordingly, the panel ruled.

The committee strongly recommends that proper procedures must be put in place with regard to regular and consistent pregnancy and other types of testing prior to or during  competitions and that the players’ privacy rights must, however, be fully respected at all times.

Meanwhile, Lauren Ngwira has claimed she never failed a pregnancy test.

“It was all blackmail. I never failed pregnancy test, it was blackmail and unacceptable,” Ngwira told Nyasa Times.

She has been withdrawn from the Malawi Queens squad travelling to New Zealand for a tournament. Other Tigresses players were also dropped.

NAM president Rosy Chinunda said she would not comment on the outcome of the appeal hearing until they hold an executive meeting and consult their legal advisers soon.

Tigresses: Cleared

Tigresses: Cleared

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