Home / Rio 2016 / Thema considers legal options; TTGF says Marquez—not Fuentes—was its HOD

Thema considers legal options; TTGF says Marquez—not Fuentes—was its HOD

Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams is said to be locked in legal discussions with her attorney Keith Scotland this weekend, as the gymnastics fraternity braces for the next move in the contentious matter of her withdrawal from the 2016 Rio Olympic Test event on April 17.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) is welcomed home from Rio by her godmother and entertainer Nikki Crosby at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) is welcomed home from Rio by her godmother and entertainer Nikki Crosby at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

On April 16, Scotland described the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation’s (TTGF) decision to replace Williams with her alternate, Marisa Dick, as: “irrational, illegal and null and void.”

It is uncertain whether a legal challenge would threaten Dick’s appearance at the Olympics.

The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) will decide whether the TTGF gets to keep its place at the Rio competition based on a checklist which includes whether proper procedure was followed in the qualification process.

The fall-out within the TTGF continued with a fourth resignation yesterday, as Sarah Lambert quit her role with the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) committee.

However, unlike Dale Ali, Carynn Chen and Anderson Charles, Lambert only conceded her committee position and will remain a TTGF board member.

TTGF general secretary Elicia Peters-Charles also denied claims, made by Facebook group Speak Out T&T, that she referred to Williams as a “disaster” and explained that she had only referenced coach John Geddert’s report in relation to the gymnast’s podium training in Rio.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right). (Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right).
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

“No one ever said Thema was a disaster,” Peters-Charles told Wired868. “None of the federation members ever said Thema was a disaster either. All we did is we referred to John Geddert’s report which said her podium training was a disaster.”

Peters-Charles declined comment on anything else relating to the TTGF’s controversial decision or the goings-on in Rio. She would not confirm or deny whether the gymnastics body received a medical report on Williams while she was in Rio.

Therapist Nicole Fuentes, who travelled to Rio with Williams, also tried to clear up another issue, as she said that she was not the TTGF’s head of delegation (HOD).

According to Williams’ contract, she could not be removed from the Olympic Test event unless by the “head of delegation in consultation with my coach and relevant medical personnel.”

Peters-Charles said Fuentes, who is a licensed massage therapist, was none of the above and insisted that president David Marquez was the de facto HOD, although he did not travel to Brazil.

Fuentes confirmed that she only travelled to Rio as medical staff.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Marisa Dick (centre) and Thema Wiliams (right) pose with therapist Nicole Fuentes while sightseeing in Rio De Janeiro on 18 April 2016. (Courtesy Hannifer Dick)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Marisa Dick (centre) and Thema Wiliams (right) pose with therapist Nicole Fuentes while sightseeing in Rio De Janeiro on 18 April 2016.
(Courtesy Hannifer Dick)

“I went as accredited paramedical staff,” Fuentes told Wired868. “I am a licensed therapist.”

Not for the first time, the TTGF had contradicted itself, though.

On April 21, in a press at the Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings, the TTGF General Secretary referred to Fuentes as her HOD when asked if the gymnastics body informed Williams that she had been withdrawn.

“Yes, we had a HOD across there, Nicole Fuentes,” said Peters-Charles, during Thursday’s press conference, “she was informed by the president, acting as HOD, to inform Thema.”

The timeline of Dick’s dash to Rio also remains full of contradictions. And, although it might be no more than a side issue in the furore, the testimony of Dick’s mother, Hannifer Dick, again seems at odds with several other people who were party to her departure from Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada.

A TTGF board member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the call to Dick was made at around 11 pm—or 9 pm Alberta time—and the 18 year old athlete broke down in tears before agreeing to take Williams’ spot. She was told that Williams was injured.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Dick, according to the source, was still at the Fort McMurray gymnasium at the time. That gym closed at roughly 9 pm (Alberta time) on Friday April 15.

At the time, the TTGF had not officially communicated Williams’ withdrawal to the athlete in Rio or her coach, although it was hours after Geddert sent his training report.

Dick’s departure time was initially given as 9 pm in an Edmonton Journal article while Dick herself told I95.5 FM, on Thursday evening, that she was at the Alberta Provincial competition when the TTGF rang.

Hannifer said otherwise in an interview on Thursday afternoon.

“We were at Fort McMurray at the competition gym and when we got back to the house (of our host) at 10.30 pm,” Hannifer told Wired868, “we got a call saying there was a possibility that she would be going to the olympics. And I said we would not be going anywhere until we knew for sure.

“And at about 10.49, I got the second phone call saying that this is definitely happening so pack your bags.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016. (Courtesy Hannifer Dick)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016.
(Courtesy Hannifer Dick)

However, from all accounts so far, the TTGF made no move to remove Williams until after Geddert’s report.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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62 comments

  1. What a bunch of morons. Like they figure we are all fools. Steups!

  2. Girl d lord didn’t want u there go some reason!Everything happens for d good.Just me

  3. So the president consulted with himself before making decision?

  4. Go For it, too much biase , after ypu have gave much of your life to the sport , and keep your coach on standy for evidence

  5. New legal eyes on the case. There you go. Lets see if they can support this changed position on who the HOD was – with evidence. Thema’s team needs to be getting affidavits fast from the members who have resigned.

  6. It eh have no goal post again is an open field just run

  7. Death threats? More hogwash spewing from David Marquez’s mouth. We live in the same neighborhood and not once has there been a police vehicle outside his house or escorting him in or out. If those threats were real wouldn’t he be concerned about his family’s safety? Or is it only when tv cameras are on that the police are visible? Marquez is a liar to the core . He conveniently (ALLEGEDLY) never produced records when he was managing neighborhood funds and was asked repeatedly to show documentation. We had to replace him. All who have money in Copos better withdraw!

  8. These people just keep lying, we are supposed to believe and accept whatever they say on the fly, because they are telling us how it is.

    The Olympics are about fair play. But Dick is in the media telling us that what is important is that TT has someone represent them at the Olympics.

    TTGF just put their favored girl in the Olympic spot because they wanted to. The one they didn’t want to win the spot did, so they made multiple attempts to sabotage her, then they just bold faced took her spot away at the final hour. TTOC needs to decline the spot if it’s Dick or no one, and put an end to this whole dirty situation.

  9. EVERYBODY KNOWS THE REAL STORY!!!

  10. The process is so rigged it is not even a joke. They know full well that they abused every single rule in the book and are now lying through their teeth to cover their tracks.

  11. “Liars need to have good memories.”

  12. Sigh. This is so silly yes.

  13. Each time I read anything pertaining to this debacle, some new negative information surfaces, which puts the TTGF under further scrutiny. From all reports, the HOD stressed that the athlete was fit to perform and informed the TTGF accordingly. The TTGF then informed the HOD, Fuentes, who was the sole authority at the time,, that the athlete had been withdrawn…question..how and who circumvented Fuentes’ opinion?, it was further stated that the athlete visited a doctor in Rio, who also confirmed the athlete’s fitness..what madness, propagated and premeditated by DAVID MARQUEZ..and Ricardo Lui Shue…These guys have to GO, and while in the process, take their baggage with them, Peters-Charles and the lot. There is a Dark Cloud lurking over the TTGF.

  14. And thereafter she was swiftly downgraded lol , to a massage therapist ? 🙂

  15. I waiting to hear that they look at the big picture and send Dick. I waiting because once it eh illegal you can go ahead and do it.

  16. What they say about a liar and a short memory.

  17. Update: On April 21, in a press at the Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings, the TTGF General Secretary referred to Fuentes as her HOD when asked if the gymnastics body informed Williams that she had been withdrawn.

    “Yes, we had a HOD across there, Nicole Fuentes,” said Peters-Charles, during Thursday’s press conference, “she was informed by the president, acting as HOD, to inform Thema.”

  18. A concerted effort should be made to REMOVE DAVID MARQUEZ from office, he is not fit to be head of his administration. He blatantly breached the TTGF’s Condtitution.

  19. Was not consulted?,,IF NOT..WHY NOT. The question begs,,,was it to select and send his and his executive PERSONAL CHOICE.? ..In which case he overstepped his authority.

  20. How are you head of the delegation if you’re not even part of the delegation?

  21. Smh…. It is so unfortunate that one day someone in my country would actually take matters in their own hands and deliver punishment on people like this. Hmm lies on lies, conspiracy on conspiracy…. “Et tu Brutus”…. Who will sell out whom now…

  22. Ok but I thought first they suggested that Fuentes was the HOD,

    And then they changed that story to say they had no HOD because they didn’t need one as there was only one athlete.

    ( Peters-Charles said, “There was only one athlete in Rio and therefore we didn’t need a head of delegation, saying this is only needed when there is more than one athlete. In this situation the coach did the right thing by contacting the head of the federation to make the decision and the president got the support of nine of the 15 members in deciding to pull Williams out,”)

    Now they are saying they had a HOD but it was Marquez.

    Their arrogance in just doing whatever they want and changing their story as required, and knowing it doesn’t matter because they already got what they set out to do, is unbelievable.

    They are just creating so many layers of confusion, and lies, to cloud the issue, thinking that people will forget what the actual unthinkable act was in the first place: the TTGF and Marisa’s coaches, just went ahead with their original plan and took Thema’s Olympic spot away from her at the last moment when it was too late for anyone to stop them.

  23. Lasana at the TTGF’s press conference on the 20th, Elicia Peters-Charles states that the head of delegation was Nicole Fuentes.

    About 12:50 on this recording.

    https://www.facebook.com/abeo.jackson.9/videos/vb.17303019/10100138622246874/?type=2

  24. Listen to me they so jokey eh. I so want to write a script. And I want to play Elicia Peters Charles in it. Just make sure she is played right. Lolol

  25. Was he there from the beginning? If yes then he can confirm what the coach said. So you on the Federation and you could not speak to Thema. Look sometim it is better just to hush. This is 1 of these time

  26. Guardian lying on them?

    “President of the T&T Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) David Marquez admitted the head of delegation of the T&T Gymnastics team in the Rio Test event, Nicole Fuentes, was not properly consulted before pulling Thema Williams out of the event but the federation had to make an informed decision.”

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/sport/2016-04-21/thema-supported-me-rio-says-dick

  27. The Head of the Delegation always travels with the team

  28. While the law suit is something to definitely pursue…I am most interested in finding out whether the TTOC is getting closer to a decision on whether to decline the Olympic spot. I believe they have more than enough information to make this call. Foremost for them to consider is the impact on the morale and performance of sporting bodies in general if they allow the TTGF to get away with cheating Thema out of her rightful spot. Next Olympics she will be past her prime. The whole of Trinidad and Tobago is disgusted with this episode and will not support Dick’s quest for glory at our taxpayers expense. Sending her to represent our country will forever remain a blot on our Olympic history. They have the power to act. Hope they consider these points.

    • Earl Best

      Couln’t agree more. While I would have liked Thema to represent us because she looks to me with my layman self to be the better gymnast, the issue really is not who represents us but the manner of his/her selection.

      April 21, like yesterday, is history which we cannot change; August 2016 is history which can change us forever.

  29. Considers? You still considering if to sue them? Girl just behave and sue them already.

  30. What about the flight info? What are the other issues blocking us from establishing a Canada to Rio timeline?

  31. Keep talking please! This hole is almost big enough for all of them!

  32. The Head of Delegation for the Rio trip was right here in Trinidad….how does that work?

  33. This is like adding ingredients to a cake after you have already baked it

  34. The head of the delegation didn’t attend? How could he have been able to make such a judgment call without consulting with the coach or physio if he wasn’t even there?