Tuesday, 30 October 2012 02:30
By Carol Williams
Antigua St. John's - A serious disagreement has erupted between the Minister of Sports and the Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (NOC) over the appointment of William Richards as Senior Administrator.
It has ignited a firestorm of charges and counter charges between the two groups, a situation the Barbados-based Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO) has refused to get involved in.
NOC president E.P Chet Greene has distanced the committee from the "unilateral" appointment in a letter to RADO and demanded that "no program be approved for Antigua until and unless due recognition and respect is shown to the NOC by the ministry of Sport on this matter."
He also suggested that the partnership agreement dictating the management and handling of all anti-doping matters has broken down though it worked well in the past.
"As an IOC initiative, the NOC demands a return to the protocols governing our bipartisan approach to the Antigua and Barbuda NADO," Greene said.
"Given the perennial embarrassment caused to the NOC, our athletes and country by the ministry's nonpayment of assessed RADO dues, please be advised the this matter is now under active consideration by the NOC and a decision will be taken shortly about the merits/benefits of our failed model of partnership with the ministry of Sport."
Greene's missive was addressed to RADO Executive Director Tessa Chaderton-Shaw.
However, the regional official said the organisation cannot intervene in the internal decision-making process within administrations.
She encouraged "the necessary partnership, collaboration and cohesion between the ABOA and the Ministry of Sports in keeping with the principles outlined in the World Anti-Doping Code."
Minister responsible for Sports Winston Williams has delivered a scathing response to Greene in a letter dated October 29, stating he made unsubstantiated and erroneous allegations.
"It is unconscionable and stomach churning, to think that you, an appointed member of the nation’s Parliament and the President of the Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Association, would demand that, a regional body which has no jurisdiction in the setting of Government policy, ‘that absolutely no program be approved for Antigua’," Williams
The minister of state told Greene his action is seeks to cripple and to destabilize the aspirations of young Antiguans and Barbudans.
He accused the NOC president of launching a vicious, uncalled for and unwarranted attack on Richards, a fellow Antiguan and Barbudan whom, he said, has contributed significantly to the development of sports in Antigua and Barbuda in the areas of Physical Education and Sports Training as well as anti-doping.
The minister said he is very troubled with a report that Richards was refused informed he was not welcomed at the office of the NOC when he visited there recently to obtain anti-doping literature.
Relative to claims that the partnership agreement has broken down regarding this matter, Williams said he was not aware this had occurred.
"Nothing has changed. Dr. Philmore Benjamin still remains the Director (Antigua and Barbuda’s representative) on the Caribbean RADO," he pointed out.
He said though that there has been a breakdown in the level of trust that he had in the NOC leadership.
"It broke down when you Sir, chose to prematurely divulge to the public media, the contents of our meeting of August 20, 2012 regarding plans to negotiate scholarships for two track and field athletes before any formal arrangements had been made with either the parents of the athletes or the institution under consideration," the minister said.
"This revelation to the media caused significant embarrassment to the Ministry of Sports since parents involved were outraged that such an announcement could be made without consultation. I can only conclude that this was done as political move and not one in the best interest of the athletes, one of whom is a minor."
He revealed that the Ministry has been making the necessary payments to the World Anti-Doping Agency to bring the country's accounts up to date for the periods 2002 to 2003 and 2007 to 2012.
Arrangements, he said, are being made for a payment plan for the 2004 to 2006 period.
"In the case of the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO), according to our records, the failure of the organization to submit the original invoices saw delays in payment from the Treasury of Antigua and Barbuda," he explained.
"However, following discussions with the present Executive Director, Caribbean RADO, the matter has since been rectified and invoices submitted for payment for 2011 and 2012. The 2011 invoice has been paid in full and the 2012 invoice is now being processed for payment. I wish to make it pellucid that at NO time during my tenure were athletes embarrassed or blacklisted as a result of non-payment of subscriptions to either WADA or RADO."
The minister said further that he is bothered by how Greene handled the matter since the lines of communication are still open to him and all other members of the NOC.