SURF lifesaver Jordan Mercer will return to competition next weekend after an independent hearing lifted her controversial ban.
Mercer was one of six members of Australia's under-20 team suspended by Surf Life Saving Australia after an incident allegedly involving drugs and sexual assault at the Rescue 2012 World Surf Life Saving Championships in Adelaide in November. The 19-year-old, the daughter of legendary ironman Darren Mercer, has denied taking illegal drugs or filming the alleged incident on her phone.
Her initial attempts to overturn the suspension through the Supreme Court were unsuccessful, but an independent three-barrister judicial hearing rescinded the ban on Friday.
''The suspension has been lifted,'' confirmed Mercer's legal counsel, Christopher Branson QC. ''She's eligible to compete for the rest of the season and their next competition will be in Perth next weekend as part of the Nutri-Grain series.''
Court documents tendered to the Queensland Supreme Court have revealed the allegations levelled against Mercer. Sworn affidavits and emails sent from Mercer's lawyers to their SLSA counterparts stated that she ''did not video the alleged incident, had not seen a video of the alleged incident'' and that she did not even have a video facility on her phone. It was claimed that: ''At best, on all available facts, Jordan may be a witness to an alleged assault.''
A letter from the SLSA CEO, Brett Williamson, tendered to the Supreme Court, stated: ''Amongst the allegations are that you were present during the assault of a fellow teammate while he was unconscious.''
It is understood that nine people were in the room during the alleged incident, six male and three female.
Mercer was the youngest qualifier for the IronWoman series when she made her debut in 2010. She is also the current Molokai to Oahu world paddle board champion and record holder.