Pan-American Games: Cuban anger at `dirty tricks'
Thursday 29 July 1999
Bad feeling began when a local newspaper published a step-by-step guide on how to defect in Canada. United States and Cuban rivalry may also have been at play when the American wrestler Les Gutches began mocking his Cuban opponent, Yoel Romero, after winning a preliminary bout in the 85kg category.
"He started beating on the back of Romero like he was playing the drums," a Reuters photographer said. Gutches then raised his arms in front of his opponent.
The delegation's predicament brought comments from the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, who accused organisers of "tricks". Castro complained that at the last minute organisers had removed more than 100 gold medal events from the games, in most of which Cuba was traditionally strong. He claimed the move was intended to benefit Cuba's two biggest rivals, Canada and the United States.
"We have never seen such tricks and such dirtiness in a Pan American competition ... and all to harm Cuba, to displace Cuba from second place, to benefit the host nation and to reduce the merit of our sportsmen," Castro said.
Brian Koshul, spokesman for the organising committee, declined to comment on Castro's speech, which was made in Havana, but sympathised with the Cubans. "This obsessive attention to the political side by the media is upsetting to me as well. We have got games going on here. Athletes should be the focus, politics should be left to another day," he said.
The gymnast Eric Lopez collected three more gold medals on Tuesday to take his overall tally to five and bring some relief to the Cuban camp. Lopez's haul made him the leading individual gold medallist at the Games with a total that is unlikely to be overtaken. The 26-year-old won on the pommel horse, rings and parallel bars as he added to the gold medals he picked up in Saturday's team event and Sunday's all-round individual competition.
"It was a win for my country, for Cuba, not just for me," said Lopez, who also won silver in the horizontal bar.
Cuba has not competed in Olympic gymnastics since 1980 but coach Emilio Sagre del Cristo said the team will go to the world championships this autumn to try to qualify for Sydney.
The gymnastics programme ended with Canada claiming three of the four golds in the women's apparatus finals.
In athletics, Emetrio Silva gave Cuba another gold in the men's javelin with a throw of 77.46m. The Brazilian Elenilson Silva won the men's 10,000m while the United States' Lance Deal took his second consecutive hammer gold with a throw of 79.61m.
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on today but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Manchester City transfer news: City determined to sign Paul Pogba and meet £71m British transfer record
Liverpool to confirm Sean O'Driscoll and Pep Lijnders for Brendan Rodgers' backroom coaching staff
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is the UK's leading...
£23172 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest growing h...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an experienced Resident...