Cayman’s track and field athletes have been banned from participating in sanctioned competitions, according to a letter from Cayman Islands Athletics Association President Lance Barnes obtained by the Cayman Compass.

The North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) – the regional athletics governing body – has sanctioned the CIAA over money it says Cayman’s 2019 CARIFTA local organising committee owes to several countries’ athletics federations, Barnes said.

“It’s very embarrassing. Not only is it embarrassing nationally, it’s an international embarrassment,” Barnes said.

The sanction prevents any athlete from the Cayman Islands from participating in any NACAC and World Athletics athletic event, including the Olympic Games, according to the letter.

The CARIFTA championships were held in April 2019.

Barnes said the issue stems from roughly US$50,000 NACAC says Cayman’s CARIFTA organising committee needs to refund other NACAC member federations. Those federations would have paid local organisers a “levy” of $150 per athlete, coach and other team official who planned to travel to Cayman for the CARIFTA games. That fee is meant to help cover food and accommodations.

Some countries, however, brought “extra” officials with them, according to Barnes. Upon arriving, Barnes said, those federations should have paid the local organising committee the original $150 plus another $100 per official per night, according to NACAC policy. That money would help the local organising committee offset the cost of housing those officials.

Instead, Barnes said, local organisers told visiting teams not to pay the additional $100 and instead to cover 100% of housing those officials. That “contravened NACAC standing policy”, according to the letter.

Barnes did not know how many regional member federations are involved, but estimated it to be fewer than 10.

Sports Ministry Chief Officer Joel Francis was head of Cayman’s local organising committee for the games. An email sent to a spokesperson for the ministry on Sunday night was not immediately returned.

Barnes said the sanctions are especially detrimental for Cayman’s professional athletes, like Kemar Hyman. Hyman would be unable to participate in most – if any – international track meets until the matter is resolved.

“This has some kind of psychological effect on them as well,” Barnes said of Cayman’s athletes.

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