PRESS RELEASE – As we are about to witness the Inter-secondary Schools Track and Field Championships, the biggest track and field event on island, now is an appropriate time to examine the state of track and field as it relates to the development of the discipline and the development of athletes in St. Lucia.
According to a group of concerned individuals which includes former national athletes, Olympians, current coaches, parents of athletes and several other sports stakeholder there is something rotten in the management of the sport of athletics in St. Lucia.
For decades, athletics’ enthusiasts and corporate sponsors alike have vented, but for this year 2015, the issue has reached such unethical levels that it has caused a major stir, amidst the hype of the upcoming annual Inter-secondary School Championships and Carifta games.
This situation is so grave that one of the most populated and most vibrant athletic clubs in St. Lucia has even refused to participate in the sport of athletics in 2015 due to alleged acts discrimination by the Executive of the St. Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA).
This reaction also stemmed from the dishonourable manner in which the biennial election process for the Executive of the St. Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) was conducted on 25th October 2014.
The election process was highly criticized as it violated several articles of the Constitution of the SLAA, as described by petitioners in a signed petition dated 20th December 2014 to the Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edwards and Fortuna Belrose, and the elected President of the SLAA Wayne Burton.
The purpose of the petition was to solicit the attention of the persons who are responsible for the management of St. Lucia’s sporting disciplines to investigate major infractions in the management of the sport of athletics over the years.
Not having received any feedback from the mentioned authorities, the petitioners wish to publicly express the following:
1) It has been over three (3) months since the petition was delivered to the authorities and to this date, no formal communication or response, neither a course of action have been received or expressed.
2) The trivialization of the matter is considered to be detrimental to the future of athletics, and will inevitably affect the development of the sport.
Some of the instances of blatant constitutional breach highlighted within the letter are as follows:
the acceptance of unaudited financial statements for end of bi-annual reporting review when the Constitution stipulated otherwise;
discrepancies and lack of record keeping with regard to membership dues;
the subjective manipulation of articles and clauses of the constitution;
the inability of the Executive (some members have served for over two decades)
to furnish clubs and affiliates with a complete, verifiable list of all members to
form the mandatory appendix (as per the Constitution) of the annual report;
restricting access to the election process to the general public and even to current athletes;
Discrimination against and preferential treatment to selected clubs;
the emergence and acceptance of inactive clubs for voting purposes.
The petitioners demand answers and are planning to take this matter to the highest level if they continue to be ignored. The lack of response is viewed as deliberate and disrespectful to the petitioners.
Perhaps a response from the relevant authorities to the above cited petition letter could have avoided the dire situation with of the voluntary refusal of one athletic club to participate in national track meets.
The petitioners are demanding a formal response to demonstrate that there is a level of seriousness to the development of athletics in St. Lucia as we (as a nation) look forward to host major events such as the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017.
Athletics in St. Lucia is governed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Each national federation, although independently managed by their local authorities are expected to abide by the IAAF rules and regulations.