Noosa’s Jordan Mercer completes her ski race at the state endurance championships.
Noosa’s Jordan Mercer completes her ski race at the state endurance championships. Geoff Potter

Jordan Mercer fights suspension from ironman circuit

LAWYERS for Surf Life Saving Australia have argued Jordan Mercer should not have her suspension lifted because she breached a core association principal - trust.

Mercer, widely recognised as a rising star in the sport, has applied to the Supreme Court to have a suspension lifted so she can compete in surf carnivals this weekend and in the Nutri-Grain Series.

The court heard this morning Ms Mercer's suspension related to a team mate in jeopardy.

"There was a team mate in a point of jeopardy and he was not cared for and he ought to have been," lawyer for SLSA Andrew Hoare said.

He said that "failure to act" breached a core principal.

"For the association to operate effectively, it must have discipline," Mr Hoare said.

Justice John Byrne asked what harm could be done if Ms Mercer, ironman Darren Mercer's daughter, was to compete in upcoming events.

Mr Hoare said there would not be an assertion she would deliberately act in a fashion "contrary to her duties as member of the association".

Chris Tam, lawyer for Ms Mercer, argued there was nowhere in the association's constitution or regulations to empower the suspension.

Mr Hoare said the suspension was set down for SLSA hearing from December 14- 16.

He said a final determination and if required, penalty, would be finalised prior to the Nutri-Grain Series.

Justice Byrne asked lawyers for Ms Mercer and SLSA to show him what disadvantage their respective clients would sustain if the injunction to lift the suspension was denied or granted respectively.

He adjourned the matter until 2:30pm.

Jordan Mercer fights suspension from ironman circuit

JORDAN Mercer, the Sunshine Coast's golden girl of surf lifesaving, has launched legal action to overturn her suspension from the ironwoman circuit.

In an application due to be heard by the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Tuesday, the 19-year-old, who celebrates her birthday today, says her "provisional suspension" by Surf Life Saving Australia breaches the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness.

Court documents seen by The Australian say the rising Noosa star was issued a "notice of Judiciary Committee investigations and provisional suspension" dated November 22.

On the same day, six members of the Australian under-20 team were suspended by SLSA after an alleged incident at the 2012 world surf lifesaving championships in Adelaide.

It said incidents also involved members of an international team contesting the world championships.

  SLSA in an official release alleged incidents being investigated included assault and illicit drug use.

It has since emerged that the assault involved a French team member "dacking" another competitor at an end of event party, kissing him on the butt and declaring that was how the French conducted resuscitation. 

The Supreme Court application asks the court to "restrain" SLSA "until further order" from suspending Mercer.

A Surf Life Saving judiciary hearing scheduled for December 14, 15 and 16 will hear evidence compiled since a report was submitted by Australian Under 20 team manager Katrina Kirk on November 18.

Media last week identified as one of those suspended Northcliffe SLSC coach Barry Newman, the SLSA club coach of the year who is also the Australia Under 20 craft coach. He was subsequently stood down  by his club pending the outcome of the hearing.

Then on Friday last week Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported iron man series director Guy Leach as confirming that a female competitor in the elite competition due to start on December 23, was one of those suspended.

  The report effectively identified Mercer who was the only female member of the Australian Under 20 team who qualified for the series.

   The Daily understands she and her family remain in the dark about the nature of allegations that led to the suspension.  

Mercer, the daughter of former ironman champion Darren Mercer, now head coach at Noosa SLSC, has had a sensational year as a competitor.

In November in Adelaide, the Noosa teen won gold in the youth ironwoman.

Mercer's performance helped Australia become the inaugural youth champions in the world championship event.
In September, she captained the Australian under-21 team to glory at the Sanya Bussan International Lifesaving Cup in Japan.

Earlier in the year, she won three gold medals at the ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships in Peru, defended her Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championship crown, and collected two under-19 gold medals at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships.

Iron man legend Grant Kenny says questions had to be raised about SLSA's handling of the allegations.

He said the matters should have been conducted in the strictest confidence until proven or otherwise.

The former champion competitor said SLSA's failure to allow due process had impacted on the reputations of the entire team.

SLSA has convened its own full judiciary hearings and set provisional dates of December 14, 15 and 16.

Kenny questioned the delay, saying the alleged incident is now at least two weeks old and it would be a month before any sort of resolution could be reached.

He said given the seriousness of the allegations and the guilt by association that now impacts the 12 competitors and five officials that make up the Under 20 Australian squad, an inquiry should have been held immediately.

Kenny says if there were matters that required investigation, he was supportive of surf lifesaving to do so.

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