BAAA President responds to ‘unconstitutional’ claims
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: May 08, 2013
Responding to claims that a meeting of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) which resulted in a ‘no confidence’ vote in three of its executive members was unconstitutional, BAAA President Mike Sands said that not only was the meeting duly recognized and constitutional, but that the result is valid and official, and the body is now prepared to heal its wounds and move on.
The three members in question, former vice president Iram Lewis, secretary general Carl Oliver and Harrison Petty, a sitting executive by means of his presidency over the BAAA Parents Association of Track and Field Athletes, have been disruptive of BAAA proceedings, ignored the office of the presidency, and have even gone as far as causing public embarrassment to the BAAA both locally and internationally, according to Sands.
Sands outlined a number of incidents which have transpired in the past six months, since the election of officers on November 17, which has caused a major rift in the local governing body for track and field.
He said that there has been a confrontation with the secretary general of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) - the world’s governing body for track and field, unauthorized communication to the IAAF causing embarrassment and confusion to the local body, a stance to undermine the leadership of the BAAA by holding separate executive meetings, misrepresenting athletics giant Puma by defacing logos, and the “straw which really broke the camel’s back” - the unauthorized nomination of delegates and consequent casting of votes for executive members of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) against the best interest of the BAAA.
“What actually happened is that they casted votes against representatives of the BAAA. Many members of the BAAA saw this as an egregious act, and therefore, a meeting was called to discuss that along with a number of other issues,” said Sands yesterday. “The meeting was chaired by Dr. Cyprian Strachan, and executives, council members and the general body were invited to attend. During the meeting, the members expressed their disgust with the unrelenting behavior of the three members in question, and also the fact that during a previous meeting, there was an outburst by members that did not go well for the credibility of the organization. A motion was moved and seconded for a vote of ‘no confidence’ to remove those members from office, and the results were very clear by those in attendance. The facts speak for themselves, and therefore we do not recognize those men as part of the executive. I would wish for persons to respect the wishes of the majority of the BAAA as it presently is. This is a small bump in the road and I would wish for persons to remain focused and allow us to move forward.”
On Wednesday May 1, a BAAA meeting, chaired by one of its council members Dr. Cyprian Strachan, was held, and a ‘no confidence’ vote was held in Lewis by a count of 33-3, Oliver by a count of 36-2, and Petty by a unanimous count of 36-0. The numbers reflected over 51 percent of the membership present, as mandated by the constitution of the BAAA. However, the following night, the three former executives showed up to another BAAA meeting citing that the previous meeting was unconstitutional, and they will continue to serve in their respective positions. According to reports, Sands asked the trio to leave and appeal the process through the proper channels if they so desire. The meeting was disrupted, and consequently wasn’t held.
Moving forward, Sands said yesterday that the three positions will be filled by either appointments or a separate election in short order, as decided by the membership of the BAAA. The BAAA still has to deal with the preparation of athletes for five international meets this year including the IAAF World Championships, as well as the rapidly approaching open national championships.
“There is much work to be done. Though, I am often discouraged, I am never deterred from carrying out the task that was assigned to me by the majority of the membership,” said Sands. “My focus, and that of the remaining executives, council members and coaches is the continued preparation of our athletes for the remaining meets on the calendar including local, regional and world events. As I speak, a technical team is in Grand Bahama with members of the Grand Bahama LOC (Local Organizing Committee) for the purpose of executing the best ever open national championships.
“I wish to re-assure all stakeholders that the work of the BAAA will continue, and we will continue to grow from strength to strength, with the help and support of all persons who are generally concerned with seeing the federation grow. This unfortunate turn of events will in no way damage the members or our efforts in advancing the federation for the betterment of our beloved sport,” he added.
The BAAA Open National Championships are set for June 21-22, at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex, in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Sands stated that prior to the conclusion of the November 17 elections of last year in which he was re-elected as BAAA President, there was a planned coup to undermine his leadership and remove him from office.
“While the votes were being counted, Mr. Harrison Petty made a declaration that he would move to have a immediate vote of ‘no confidence’ in the president, and thus the campaign began and continues to the present,” said Sands. “Since those elections, the office of the vice president has not acted in support, in my view, of the presidency. The office of the president has been under siege and undermined. Mr. Petty and his supporting cast are obviously not concerned about the injury that they have caused the office of the president, and by extension the BAAA.”
As far as the meeting which resulted in the ‘no confidence’ vote of the three former executives not being unconstitutional, Sands said that the BAAA constitution allows for any member or two to call for a meeting, with sufficient notice.
“A request was made for the meeting on April 24. Therefore, due notice was given. I saw no reason for the meeting not to be held, and therefore supported it once there was a quorum of the members,” said Sands. “Let me say this. The office of the president of the BAAA is greater than Mike Sands, his predecessors, and his successors. The office of the president has had its share of hotly contested elections, but it has never been subject to skullduggery, disrespect and infidelity from those elected to assist the president and others to serve the federation and its athletes. I have come into possession of numerous e-mails, originated by Mr. Petty, where there is constant instigation undermining, and disrespect for, the leadership of the BAAA.
“In terms of Mr. Lewis running for the vice president spot of the BOC, he (Lewis) never communicated to me his intention to run for the office of vice president. They voted against myself, and even more significant, they voted against Pauline Davis-Thompson, who is an IAAF council member.”
Sands said that former secretary general Oliver even went as far as to admit to making a deal to support the current executive make-up of the BOC, which is inclusive of just one BAAA member.
“The first vice president, the secretary general and Mr. Petty openly campaigned on a slate against their own members. The members just decided that enough was enough,” said Sands.
Additionally, Sands said that earlier this year, former secretary general Oliver requested a template for a budget for the IAAF World Relays from the secretary general of the IAAF, when at least three meetings had already been held with government officials and regional technical delegates with regard to the same, assuring The Bahamas’ commitment to the hosting of the global event, thereby causing embarrassment to the local federation, and confusion on behalf of the IAAF.
The inaugural IAAF World Relays are set to be held here in The Bahamas in 2014, which was conditional for it being held here in 2015 as well.