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Jury Of Appeal

Many questions arise about the Jury of Appeal's participation in this night's events.

Let's start from April 2, 1971. On that day, the FIBA approved "Regulations for the basketball tournament" of XX Olympics. Here's an excerpt from the regulations:

"3.7.2 ................... The Jury of Appeal of FIBA is formed of representatives of the nations taking part in the Olympic Basketball Tournament on the recommendation of the General Secretary of FIBA. The Jury of Appeal consists of five members and four alternate members. The chair shall be taken by the senior member of the FIBA Central Bureau present in Munich. Members of the Jury of Appeal of FIBA who are of the same nationality as the teams involved in such a protest may not take part in the decision and alternate members shall take their place."

Three days before an opening of the basketball tournament, the FIBA and representatives of participant teams held a meeting at which they designated members of the Jury of Appeal as follows:


President:

  1. Abdel Moneim Wahby, Egypt

Members:

  1. Russel Lyons, USA
  2. Nikolai Semashko, USSR
  3. Jiri Doskocil, Czechoslovakia
  4. Claudio Coccia, Italy

Substitutes:

  1. Rafael Lopez, Puerto Rico
  2. Andres Keiser, Cuba
  3. Adam Baglaewski, Poland
  4. Baldomero Baeza, Spain

Secretaries:

  1. Robert Hillyard, USA
  2. Lee Williams, USA

We could assume that Abdel Moneim Wahby was the "senior member of the FIBA Central Bureau present in Munich." But that assumption would be wrong! Mr. Wahby's birth date was November 11th, 1911, while Ferenc Hepps (who was also in Munich) birth date was November 3, 1909. We can conclude that there was some violation of regulations.

By the time of the final basketball game, Abdel Moheim Wahby had already left Munich, so the FIBA and the representatives had to assign a new president. We could assume that one of the members stepped in to be the president of the Jury of Appeal. We would be wrong again! This time Mr.Jones (who else?) recalled the regulations and assigned Ferenc Hepp as president. The importance of this decision will be clearer if the reader learns that Ferenc Hepp was a close friend of William Jones. Mr.Hepp practically stepped in to defend Mr.Jones' actions made during the game.

For obvious reasons (and the fact that the regulations contained a paragraph devoted to a situation like that), jury members from the USA and USSR could not participate in the discussion; the substitutes were supposed to fill their positions. Here is the list of the members of the jury who participated in that night's discussions:


President:

  1. Ferenc Hepp, Hungary

Members:

  1. Claudio Coccia, Italy
  2. Rafael Lopez, Puerto Rico
  3. Andres Keiser, Cuba
  4. Adam Baglaewski, Poland

Why weren't Jiri Doskocil and Baldomero Baeza invited? Had they already left Munich? If that was true, that would be a very irresponsible action, because they held important positions and should have stayed until their services were no longer required. But it is also possible that they just didn't fit in, because William Jones needed Ferenc Hepp as the president, and the jury had to consist of five members.

So, after the game Americans filed a formal protest. According to the basketball tournament regulations, the first entity that was supposed to review the protest was the Technical Committee. There was no doubt what the committee's ruling would be, as William Jones himself was a chairman of it. Inevitably, that would be followed by the next American protest of the USA team, this time to the Jury of Appeal. So, Jones decided to organize a joint discussion between the Technical Committee and the Jury of Appeal. That allowed him to control the flow of the discussion. Jones could not be involved in the decisive voting, however, because it would have made it illegitimate. He had to let the Jury of Appeal do the voting. The discussion started at about 2 a.m. and finished at about 2 p.m. the same day. They had one intermission of about two hours. The total length of the discussion was about 10 hours. Having all the data, how long does it take an experienced basketball professional to make up his mind? Probably an hour or so. Another hour could have been spent in discussion. Let's allocate one more hour for a lengthy discussion. As there was no need for a unanimous decision, why would the jury spend an extra five hours deliberating? Only two people had the power to delay the voting procedure: William Jones and the President of the Jury Ferenc Hepp We know how Hepp voted (in favor of the Soviets), so, apparently, both Jones and Hepp were unhappy with the current distribution of votes, and they tried to convince jurors to support their position. They kept jurors locked in until 2 p.m. but could not succeed. Finally, they decided to rig the voting. Otherwise, why would they have needed a secret ballot? The members of the jury discussed it for 10 hours already and everyone perfectly understood each other's standpoint. The answer is simple: The matter was decided by secret ballot to rule in favor of the Soviets, thus disregarding the real distribution of votes.

This conclusion is corroboratred by the testimony of one of Jury members, Rafael Lopez. In his conversation with "San Juan Star" sports editor Tito Stevens he said "We voted at 2 pm. Sunday but an hour and a half earlier I glanced over my shoulder and saw that the chairman of the committee already had the official decision --Russia wins-- written on a piece of paper" ( The San Juan Star, October 11, 1972).