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|August 17, 2000||
Samaranch washes hands off Montalvo
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch has admitted there is nothing more he can do to help world long jump champion Niurka Montalvo in her bid to represent Spain at the Sydney Olympics.
The Cuban-born Montalvo, who became a naturalised Spaniard last year before winning gold at the world championships in Seville, learned last week that Cuba had decided not to grant permission for her to compete for Spain at the Olympics.
Under IOC rules Cuba needs to agree to the nationality switch for the Games starting next month.
Relations between the two countries took a further turn for the worse when Cuba ordered a 30-strong team of athletes and coaches to leave Spain over the weekend and decamp to Italy.
The intervention of the Spaniard Samaranch had been seen in his home country as offering a potential solution but the issue he believes, is now political rather than sporting.
"In sporting terms, I don't believe it can be resolved," Samaranch said on Spanish state radio. "Diplomatically a deal could be reached, though. I won't be taking any further steps on this matter."
Spain would continue to press for Montalvo to be given the green light to compete at a meeting between Spanish government officials and the Cuban sports minister on Wednesday, Spanish radio said.
Spain will also have to ask for permission for another of their Sydney hopefuls to compete in Sydney.
Ivan Perez, formerly Cuban but now a member of the Spanish waterpolo squad, was naturalised in 1997 and misses the three-year qualification period by 42 days. Cuba has formally denied him permission to participate on Spain's behalf.
Meanwhile, at a meeting on Wednesday, Spanish sports minister Juan Antonio Gomez Angulo failed to win a change of heart from Cuban sports minister Humberto Rodriguez.
Waterpolo player Ivan Perez -- another Cuban-born Spaniard who misses the three-year qualification period by 42 days -- will also have to miss the Games.
"Every possibility has now been exhausted," said Gomez Angulo after the meeting.
Mail Sports Editor
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