By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE decision to remove three executives from office was a result of a series of problems that manifested within the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) since the elections were held six months ago.
Almost a week after the membership staged a “vote of no confidence” in first vice president Iram Lewis, secretary general Carl Oliver and Harrison Petty, president of the Bahamas Parents Association, BAAA president Mike Sands finally broke his silence during a solo press conference at their office in the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium on Tuesday.
On November 17, in a three-way race, Sands said he garnered about 50 per cent of the votes to be returned as president, but during the process, Petty informed him that he will move directly to have a “vote of no confidence” in his removal from office.
Petty, according to Sands, campaigned for Lewis and after he lost the presidency, Lewis “reluctantly” accepted the post of first vice president.
“Since the 2012 elections and Mr Petty’s declaration, the office of the vice president has not acted in my view in the capacity of the presidency,” Sands said. “The office of the president has been under seige and undermined.
“Mr Petty and his supporting cast obviously do not understand the injury they have caused the office of the president and by extension the BAAA. This has nothing to do with Mike Sands as the person, but as the office of the president of the BAAA.”
So how did the BAAA reach to the dilemma that has rocked the most prestigious sporting body in the country to its core?
Sands tried to put it into perspective.
A number of embarrassing episodes that have put the BAAA in jeopardy
The confrontation with the IAAF general secretary
Unauthorised communications to the IAAF, causing embarrassment and confusion
Undermining the leadership by holding separate executive meetings
Misrepresenting Puma by defacing logos
The BOC (Bahamas Olympic Committee) nomination and election
Unauthorised nomination of delegates
Casting votes on behalf of the federation against Sands (as the president) and Pauline Davis-Thompson (the IAAF council member).
“This, along with other matters, have caused great concern to the membership of the BAAA,” Sands said. “The former vice president of the BAAA never communicated to me that he had intended to run for vice president of the BOC.
“Additionally, I have come in contact with a number of emails from Mr Petty where there has been disrespect for the leadership. Such events communicated with a meeting that was chaired by Dr Cyprian Strachan, a long-standing member and every council member and general member was invited to attend the meeting.”
On the issue of whether or not the meeting called last Wednesday was a duly constituted one, Sands said any council member is entitled to call a meeting and Strachan was in his rights, but the three members in question refused to attend.
Curt Hollingsworth, immediate past president of the BAAA, said it was in 2008 that he imitated a vote of no confidence in Sands and he went through the proper procedure by appealing to the IAAF, which advised him that he was in his rights and there was no case for him to answer.
Hollingsworth, now fully backing Sands in this rift that has surfaced, said that the three former executives find themselves in the same situation as Sands and that is for them to go through the proper procedure rather than dragging Sands’ name through the mud.
As they look forward, Sands said the BAAA is 62 years old and while they’ve had their “ups and downs,” they’ve never experienced anything like this in his memory, but they will weather the storm.
“This will only make us more committed to become more united and focused for us to move this organisation forward,” Sands said. “We now have to move forward with a purpose. I again respectfully request the members that while they may not be in agreement with what transpired, I respectfully request that they honour the wishes of the majority of the members.”
He said “there is a process that they ought to follow and they ought not to try to continue to be
disruptive of the members by showing disrespect to the members.”
Tonight, Sands said the BAAA will have a member to decide on whether they will replace the members by election or appointment.