Blame game as McLeod drops out of race to defend Indoors title

Observer writer

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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Omar McLeod will not defend his Men's 60m hurdles title at next weekend's IAAF World Indoors championships in Birmingham, England, but his management team is refuting allegations that the athlete “withdrew” from the team.

In an exchange of words late yesterday, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) said McLeod, the World Championships and Olympics 110m hurdles champion, had withdrawn from the team on the eve of their departure to the United Kingdom.

OnTrack Management, the company that represents McLeod, however, laid the blame at the feet of the JAAA, saying the federation failed to “communicate and assist its constituent (Mr Omar McLeod) on a matter pertinent to team selection and representation”.

It is understood that adequate preparation was not made for McLeod to secure travel documents to get into the UK for the championships that are held every two years.

Given the developments after the deadline for entries, the JAAA will not be able to name a replacement for McLeod. Also, two female sprint hurdlers — US college students Rushell Burton and Jeanine Williams — who were named in the team on Monday, will not make the trip and will not replaced.

Dr Warren Blake, president of the JAAA, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that he had emailed correspondence to confirm that McLeod's management team, OnTrack Management, indicated that the athlete had been withdrawn.

“We got two emails today (yesterday) and the first one spoke of the athlete being withdrawn and then we got another one later in the day,” Dr Blake said.

The JAAA boss also said the federation had also made arrangements for overseas-based athletes to come to Jamaica to get their travel documents sorted out for travel to the UK.

“If you notice, we have been bringing in the athletes to facilitate paperwork for the visas... it will be too late now to replace them as the deadline has passed and we waited until the deadline to name the team to give every one sufficient time to get everything done,” Blake noted.

McLeod's management team had requested that he be selected for both the 60m hurdles and the 60m flat race.

Claude Bryan, president of OnTrack Management, told Observer that up to last Thursday they had not received any response from the JAAA, despite several emails sent to them.

In a letter copied to the Jamaica Observer, Bryan said: “Given the JAAA's failure to communicate and assist it's constituent (Mr Omar McLeod) on a matter pertinent to team selection and representation they would have already known, Mr McLeod was extremely unlikely to be in Birmingham. To say he withdrew after team selection is disingenuous at best and does not foster sound athlete/federation relationship.

“Omar is in great spirits and shape and he is looking forward to the outdoor season and future national representation.”

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