Local organisers of the 2019 CARIFTA track championships held in Cayman deny any wrongdoing following a report that the regional track-and-field governing body has sanctioned the local track association and its athletes.
“It is unfortunate that what was an otherwise extraordinary event has been marred by the current state of affairs,” the local organising committee said in a press release. “It’s even more disheartening that its greatest impact has been directed at our athletes. We are at pains to understand the grounds behind the sanctions or how they could be deemed proportionate to the accusations being levied and why they are not being challenged by the local body responsible for protecting local athletes. We too have many unanswered questions.”
The LOC says it has not received any direct communication from the North American Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association or the Cayman Islands Athletics Association outlining the alleged wrongdoing.
“(No one) raised questions or concerns about accommodation costs for persons exceeding the quota or staying outside the 5-night period.”
“We have become aware of the current situation through the same medium as the general public – the media,” the release stated. “On that basis we are not in a position to comment on the accuracy of the details in the public domain including the grounds for the sanction.”
CIAA president Lance Barnes on Sunday told the Cayman Compass NACAC has banned Cayman’s athletes from officially competing in competitive international events, including the Olympics. The sanctions come because NACAC says local games organisers owe other countries’ track federations financial reimbursements, according to Barnes.
“We unequivocally reject that any such reimbursement is owed by the LOC and we stand firmly behind our decision to consider the claim as invalid, prioritising our fiduciary obligation to safeguard the funding that was entrusted to us by the Cayman Islands Government and other sponsors of the 2019 CARIFTA Games,” the committee said.
The issue appears to revolve around obligations to pay for other countries’ athletes, coaches and team officials and, more specifically, payment requirements for personnel over the quota for each team.
The LOC says its payment obligations were outlined in a memorandum of understanding between NACAC, the CIAA and local organisers as well as in its technical manual, which was also reviewed by those entities.
The LOC was to pay for accommodations for five days and those teams were to pay the LOC $150 per member, according to the quota for official team size, to help offset the costs.
As for team officials beyond the quota or for those staying more than five days, the MOU outlined the LOC may propose a rate above any fixed limit that may be set by NACAC.
“Additionally, the Hotel’s rate and meals package rate will apply for excess personnel on each team exceeding the quota,” reads the technical manual section dealing with accommodation levies.
Barnes says this is where the problem lies, as NACAC requires organisers to still pay for these “extra” officials, while charging them US$100 in addition to the original $150 levy. Instead, Barnes said, Cayman’s organisers told visiting teams to foot the hotel bills themselves for the extra officials or those staying beyond five days, which was outlined in the technical manual.
“[The] Manual was circulated to participating Member Federations, including members who are on NACAC Council more than two months prior to the Games, none of whom raised questions or concerns about accommodation costs for persons exceeding the quota or staying outside the 5-night period,” according to the LOC’s press release.
The LOC says it became aware of allegations it breached policy in relation to accommodation costs in April 2019. An inquiry was sent to NACAC but no clarification was received, according to the LOC.
“In late 2019 Cydonie Mothersill (CIAA General Secretary and then incoming NACAC Council Member) finally sought to clarify what we had suspected all along. There was no documented policy. Per Ms. Mothersill’s clarification it was ‘tradition’ that part of the accommodation costs for excess officials be absorbed by the LOC. This position was reaffirmed by President Lopez and Treasurer Alain Jean Pierre,” stated the release.
Mothersill referred the Compass to NACAC general secretary Keith Joseph, who referred the Compass to NACAC president Mike Sands. A call to Sands was not answered and text messages were not returned.
The LOC met in January to decide on two payment requests relating to the CARIFTA Games, one of which was for excess officials and amounted to just less than US$5,000. The LOC unanimously decided to deny the requests as the fees were sanctioned and outlined in the MOU and technical manual.
In addition, the committee said the manual was agreed and approved by all relevant parties, and the LOC felt it was unreasonable NACAC would seek to enforce a policy it could not prove exists “particularly in light of the various financial commitments within the MOU that had not been realized on their part”, the LOC release stated.
The LOC says Sports Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was notified of the LOC’s decision not to pay the reimbursements. A ministry spokesperson confirmed receipt of an email from the Compass seeking comment on the matter, but no other reply has been received.