Greeks Furious at Powell

PARIS, July 20 AFP - Star sprinter Asafa Powell and three other Jamaican runners have been scratched from the Vardinoyiannia athletics meeting in Crete for unprofessional conduct'', organisers said on Thursday. The co-holder of the world 100m record, his agent Paul Doyle, hurdler Brigitte Foster and sprinters Michael Frater and Sherone Simpson failed to show for their flight to Greece on Wednesday, officials said. The 23-year-old Powell was to be the star billing on Friday at the 22nd Vardinoyiannia meeting on the island of Rethymnon. We will send a report to the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and the EAA (European Athletics Federation) to express our unhappiness about the athletes, the agent … for their unprofessional conduct,’’ the organisers said in a statement.
``That’s why were are excluding them from the starting list and we reserve the right to commences legal action over their absence.’’
Doyle told AFP he would make a statement about the matter later.
Only on Wednesday the organisers announced Powell would attempt at Rethymnon’s Gallos Stadium to take sole possession of the 9.77-second record he shares with American rival Justin Gatlin.

Here is the full true story, as quoted by Stephen Francis, Asafa’s coach.

"There is a story out that Asafa Powell and other MVP athletes withdrew from the above meet because airport officials refused to allow Asafa to carry his spikes on the plane.

Well here is our account of what happened.

A couple of weeks ago MVP were in discussion with representatives of the meet about taking part in Rethymno. We had an agreement for Asafa to compete in the 100m, but then the meet representatives told us that the majority of the agreed on Fee would not be paid until sometime next year.

We then told the meet rep that we would not be competing on those terms, and that Asafa and the other athletes would withdraw. The meet promoter asked us (as a favor) to allow the other athletes to run and for us to still carry Asafa to the meet even though he would not be competing.

We agreed. Asafa was not down to compete at this meet, so he did not withdraw as stated in these reports.

Fast Forward to yesterday Wednesday July 19. The normal practice for European meets is that the manager of the athlete makes the arrangements for the athlete to travel to the meet. The manager is then reimbursed for travel (up to a pre-arranged limit) upon arrival at the meet.

In this case, the flight arrangements were made by the meet not by the MVP manager. We were booked on an airline called Alpi Eagle to fly from Venice to Athens.

I knew as I heard the name of the airline that it was a cheap discount airline and we were going to have trouble. We were on our way back to Jamaica via Cretem Stockholm and London.

Each of us had the maximum 20k of luggage allowed by the airlines in Europe for intra-Europe travel. When we got to the check in counter we were told that this airline allows only 15 kg of luggage. I knew of these types of cheap fare airlines, and our manager has instructions not to book us on these types of airlines.

I was feeling charitable at the time so the check in continued, with the manager deciding that he would bill the meet for the baggage charges.

We had all checked our bags and they were sent to the airline, when the counter clerk told us that we had to weigh our hand luggage. This in spite of the fact that there was an airline sign in front of the counter saying that there was no weight restriction on hand luggage so long aa it could fit in the space provided. We pointed this out to the clerk who insisted that the airline only allowed 5 kg in hand luggage.

He told us that we had to remove the stuff from the hand luggage. We pointed out to him that this was non-sensical because he had already sent around all the bags. Where were we to pack the excess things. We told him that he had to send back for the bags. He refused saying that it was too late. He said that we had to check in the hand luggage bags, not transfer stuff to our checked baggage.

At this point I summoned the manager and informed his that we would not be flying on that airline. There are hundreds of ways using proper airlines that could be uaed to get us from Venice to Athens or to Crete. We could have flown Alitalia, Lufthansa, KLM, Swiss, BWIA etc. These preople chose the cheapest airline that they could find.

Out manager called the meet people to tell them that we would not be coming on that particular airline, but we would be willing to come on a different airline.

I then agreed to four subsequent planned travel routes, but each time we were told that there was no room on the flight.

Finally they said that the only option they had was to set up the travel in such a way that would have us getting to the hotel at approximately 9 pm., after 11 hours travel, to run the next day.

No more assumptions.

Those Cretens are behaving like . . . cretins :stuck_out_tongue:

So, who exactly were the Cretans? This story doesn’t work for me!
So basically it was a tantrum over the hand luggage (even after the meet promoter had agreed to cover any extra charges) causing them to leave the flight arrangements and demand alternate flights when it was far too late to expect to get any (as was the case).
1: If it’s too late to retrieve the checked baggage to put some stuff in the hold and keep some stuff out (what time did they arrive at the desk?), you amalgamate all your hand luggage and put the spikes in some of the hand luggage you’ll keep with you and check the rest. That’s not rocket science.
2: Even if you check it all and the hand luggage is lost by the airline and replacement spikes were not available, the meet would be on the dime for the appearance fees. More spikes will always be sent out for athletes of this caliber before another day passes!!
The appropriate action was to make a note of the airline and advise all promoters that that airline cannot be used for any future travel involving them.
This makes me wonder just what the IAAF will do about this situation.
To say nothing of the fact that Asafa missed the 2mps following wind that sped Tyson Gay to a 9.88! Sometimes squabbling over money today costs money tomorrow. How much is another World Record worth relative to the difference in appearance fees?

Similar things happen almost everytime you travel with athletes and if everyone react like they did, few would actually compete! So Nike only gives one pair of spikes to Asafa who keeps it religiously in his hand luggage? if the story is real, then it says much about the competence of MVP.

On the other hand, i have to say that the meeting organisor created problems with the participation of Fasuba at 200m. He has initally on the lists for 200m about 2 weeks ago and the organisor was suprised he wasn’t doing the 100m, especially after he received news that Powell wanted to run 100m (from what he said to one my greek friend running this event). Sorry but we are not planning our season according to Asafa’s plans (which change all the time by the way), and Olu has started a new training cycle and this 200m was necessary in these conditions. 4 days before the meet, the organisor said it was hard to find a lane for Fasuba at 200m, but 100m should be OK. After Powell withdreal, he really needed Fasuba at 100m but 200m was full. The night before the meet, a 200m lane was 75% sure for Fasuba and confirmation was supposed to arrive the next morning!!!. Sorry but i’m not used with this kind of organisation and i had already erased Rethymno meeting from my plan 4 days ago (keeping the athlete out of controvery of course).

I can’t even count the number of times there were travel problems. That comes under the heading of “tough shit”. Twice, in fact, we had to run after having engine failure in flight (US AIR, who else!), once arriving at the track with only 5 min till race time resulting in Ben’s only loss of the indoor season. No excuses were made- we ran, that’s it.
The meet organizer is small time but the track is lightning fast, so you do whatever you can to get on it and get the job done. You can’t expect to be in World Record shape forever.