TT Newsday- TT OLYMPIC medallist Richard Thompson said national track and field athletes continue to be disrespected after receiving emails, he termed as combative and lacking knowledge of professional athletes, sent by a Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs official.
Email exchanges between Thompson and sport development associate at the ministry Shabir Mohammed, over elite athlete funding for TT athletes, have come into the light.
The altercation between Thompson and Mohammed began when the latter, on January 26, said the division of physical education and sport received an application recommending Thompson for elite athlete assistance for fiscal year 2017/2018.
The email by Mohammed also told Thompson that his annual performance evaluation form lists him as injured for 2017 and his coaching report said he can return to full training by March 2018. Mohammed also said financial statements for money previously received and supported by bills were outstanding from Thompson.
In response, Thompson questioned what monies Mohammed was speaking about. In an email, on January 27, Thompson wrote, “Can you please let me know what money previously received you’re referring to because I haven’t received elite funding since 2015. Can you also please specify what bills are outstanding? I have provided bills for close to US$50,000 of my money spent to prepare for 2016/2017, which was received, reviewed and approved by both the TTOC (TT Olympic Committee) and the NAAA (National Association of Athletics Administrations).”
Mohammed then responded on February 6, saying Thompson signed an agreement dated June 10, 2015 to provide documents that include providing a financial statement/per tranche supported by bills. Thompson was then told his application for 2016 was incomplete as there was no medical report, no training schedule, no coach’s report and no financial statement supported by bills. The Ministry official also told Thompson he did not complete the quarterly financial statement form for 2015/2016, and as a result no payments would have been made.
Mohammed questioned why Thompson is considered an elite athlete,”Your report says that you may be able to fully train in March 2018 and another says that there is no world ranking (100m) for 2017. Can an injured athlete who has no world ranking be elite?”
The ministry official said the Olympian is welcome to seek help from another Ministry official, “If you are dissatisfied with the information I have just provided, please let me know so that another officer may be assigned your case.”
Yesterday, Thompson responded to Mohammed saying his response showed he was not willing to find a positive solution. Thompson said, “Your approach seems to be strictly combative and one of no compromise. ‘If you’re dissatisfied with what I’ve said I’ll assign your case to another officer?’ Is it that you do not possess the competence to handle matters that present a bit of sorting through, or is it that you’re simply arrogant? Your way or the highway is all I got from your last message. If the director and the minister has sanctioned your email, it leaves a lot to be desired about the manner in which they too, treat people.”
The 2008 Beijing Olympics 100m silver medalist could not understand why Mohammed was asking about financial documents for 2015, as that was already resolved.
“Here we are in 2018, with me submitting forms and receipts from 2017, and you are asking me about 2015. Sir, we have cleared that hurdle, that period has passed. I did not receive funding in 2016 because I did not submit those receipts. Case closed.”
Thompson said he submitted receipts worth US$50,000 of his money spent in 2017, with all the necessary documents and can’t understand what is the issue.
Responding to the statement made by Mohammed asking if an injured athlete is elite, Thompson said, “For you to suggest that I am ‘not elite’ because of an injury sustained representing TT is not only unreasonable, it shows your lack of knowledge for professional athletics.”
Thompson said he knows the financial situation facing TT, but asked the Ministry to stop making promises they can’t keep. The sprinter says he has no faith in the present Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs.
“It appears that as long as Darryl Smith is the Minister of Sport, athletes will continue to be treated with disdain. I have no intention of being beholden to the Ministry or its minions. I pray for my fellow athletes, because as long as they continue to live a cap in hand existence, there is little hope for them to achieve their true global potential,” Thompson said.