Ministry hits back: NAAA being ‘disingenuous’
The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs has responded to the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA), saying it was simply seeking clear answers, not attempted to “interrogate” the Association on questions surrounding Semoy Hackett’s inclusion in last month’s World Championships squad.
The Ministry and the NAAA have had a tumultuous relationship for some time now, and their latest verbal spat surrounds the Association’s decision to overturn the sprinter’s suspension after two doping violations. She did not run at the Championships after being re-suspended by the IAAF, who have appealed the matter at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
On Thursday, the NAAA issued a release over Monday’s meeting between the sides, which the Ministry said was requested to gather information about the contentious issue.
“From the Minister’s opening remarks at the meeting, he set the tone for what unfortunately turned out to be a cross-examination session, instead of a rational dialogue between two stakeholders sharing common sporting goals.
“It was evident to the members of the NAAA team that rather than seeking to understand the circumstances surrounding the matter, the Minister appeared to be in search of information that would justify what now looks like a set of preconceived notions that he already had. Despite our protestations that the matter was still being arbitrated upon and that he should temper his public comments, he held to his position.”
But the Ministry has shot back once again, saying the NAAA statement was “disingenuous”.
“The Ministry is merely seeking answers to what has been a terrible stain on the reputation of our athletes, our people and the red white and black,” the Ministry release said. “Too many of our young proud nationals train hard, clean and diligently to have their characters tarnished by the negative actions of one. The assertion that the meeting felt like a cross examination is very disingenuous.”
The Ministry has questioned the NAAA statement that they sought legal advice before clearing Hackett to compete, saying their attorney, Tyrone Marcus, was also on the disciplinary committee.
The release also said the NAAA appeared not to be “acquainted with” its own constitution, and re-iterated the Ministry’s position that it was not attempting to usurp the autonomy of the Association.
“Neither the Minister nor any Ministry Official is attempting to interfere with the operations of the NAAA. The Government has never attempted to influence any key decisions being made by the body. However, the Government has every right to question how state funds being invested in our athletes through the NAAA have been utilised,” it read.
“Further all must be done to ensure that the state purse is not being utilised to assist any athlete that has not adhered to the funding guidelines as stipulated by the Ministry’s Elite Athlete Assistance Programme.”