A SPECIAL AUDIT into the operations of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Sportt) done by the Office of the Auditor General has found hundreds of millions have been paid out over the years by the company for sporting facilities which are still incomplete; escalating costs; unjustified expenses for high-capital projects; wasted millions on recreation grounds; duplication and a history of expensive litigation relating to staff.

The Auditor General’s report, dated November 28, 2014, was tabled in the Senate last week Tuesday and has been obtained in full by Sunday Newsday. It represents the last major report overseen by Sharman Ottley, whose tenure as Auditor General came to an end earlier this month.

The report paints a damning picture of the special purposes state enterprise which had been ostensibly set up in 2004 under the PNM to facilitate the implementation of sport policy and which remains in operation under the current Government.

The Auditor General found:

* a total of $411 million was spent from 2009 to 2013 on sporting facilities meant to provide “sport for all”, but that purported goal has not been achieved;

* Sportt is now managing a whopping $2.3 billion in projects, but has no sound means of measuring progress on its objectives, gaps in records and has committed reporting breaches;

* $7.5 million in legal and other costs arose from one mass cull of staff in 2011;

* in one litigation matter the company lost, a former employee was awarded $90,000 though the employee worked “less than a day” at Sportt;

* $2.5 million has been paid to contractors/consultants for a recreation ground facility at Grand Riviere though it remains incomplete and is currently deteriorating.

The Auditor General noted that Sportt is managing 182 projects including planned national facilities such as an aquatic centre; a cycle velodrome; a tennis centre; and three “multi-purpose” centres. Also under management are regional recreation grounds; local corporation grounds; and stadia.

While millions have been allocated for the highly-touted aquatic centre, velodrome and tennis centre, the Auditor General found Sportt was unable to justify high levels of expenditure for these projects.

“The Ministry of Sport, in justifying the development and construction of the three national facilities, highlights the need to develop, on an incremental scale, potential athletes for competitions at the national and international levels,” the Report states. “ Neither the Ministry of Sport nor Sportt was able to provide a ‘Sport for All’ rationale for selecting high expenditure National Facility projects in cycling, swimming and tennis.”

Further, “Measures are not in place to collect or analyse data related to membership and participation from the national sporting organisations for each of these three and other disciplines. Additionally, Sportt does not have performance indicators to measure potential growth in these sporting disciplines to inform the construction of these projects.” The projects are further dogged by delays and escalating costs.

The Report states, “From 2005, the Ministry of Sport has sought and received approvals from Cabinet for a range of projects that have yet to be delivered. In all the high expenditure projects that we reviewed, progress has been slow. In one instance, approval was granted nine years ago, in April 2005, for the development and construction of three multi-purpose facilities that have not yet begun.”

The Auditor General finds that, “The slow rate of progress, in all instances, has significantly increased estimated costs. Our overall conclusion is that Sportt is not giving sufficient attention to financial planning and risk management in the development and implementation of important projects, which has impacted the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of delivery of sporting facilities.” On staff, the Report states the company has a high turnover which has hurt its efficiency.

“Sportt has experienced frequent staff changes, throughout the organisation, since its establishment in 2004,” the Report states. “Five Chief Executive Officers left the organisation over the ten-year period: the services of three were terminated and two resigned. Typically, the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer was slow.”

Over the ten-years, Sportt was without a Chief Executive Officer for five periods totalling three years and six months. In one instance, the post was vacant for almost 21 months: from July 6, 2008 to 31, 2010.

The Auditor General remarks: “The absence and frequent changes of Chief Executive Officer adversely affected Sportt’s administration and operations.” For example, projects were not being delivered; financial statements had not been produced; annual general meetings were not held and there was a lack of strategic approach. The billion-dollar company also had no records of confirmed board minutes prior to November 2011. There was an expensive restructuring of staff done by a consultant but the company had no records of its contractual agreement with this consultant.

“The year 2011 presented challenges, with more than 58 percent of staff leaving,” the Report states. “This resulted from an Organisational Review and Redesign Exercise implemented by Sportt’s Board of Directors, in January 2011. De Edge Consulting Limited was engaged for this exercise. Sportt did not keep records of the contractual agreement, consultant reports or payments made to them.” The cost of the exercise was determined to be $1 million. After the exercise, 32 of the 75 staff members, including the Chief Executive Officer, were dismissed. Litigation followed, the bills for which are still being paid three years later.

“Individual staff, whose employment at Sportt was terminated, took legal action for compensation,” the Auditor General states. “Nine cases have been finalised with total settlements in excess of $2.5 million. In five of the nine cases, Sportt had no record of contractual agreements for the respective staff. However, the respective terminated staff had their contracts in their possession.”

In one of the concluded cases, a former employee, “who worked for less than one day” was awarded $90,000 in a claim for unfair dismissal. Sportt expects further payments of about $6 million. Legal representation for one case alone was $137,000. None of the lawsuits were reported to the Ministry of Finance before April 2014, in breach of public sector reporting requirements.

Some attention is paid in the Report to the Grand Riviere Recreation Ground.

Of this project, the Report states, “In February 2007, Sportt awarded a contract to D&L Contracting, for just over $2.4 million, to undertake construction works at Grande Riviere Recreation Ground. The completion date was April 2008. Payments in excess of $2 million (93 percent of the contract value) were made, but Sportt did not ensure completion of the works.”

Further, “In March 2012, five years later, Sportt awarded a contract for almost a quarter-of-a-million dollars to Exeqtech Limited for consultancy services. Sportt paid $125,000, but the project was not completed.” Then, “In March 2013, Sportt contracted another company at a cost of $307,000 for design works.” Three companies later, the works are unfinished and deteriorating.

The audit involved interviews, a focus group, review of documentation, site visits, analysis of financial data and discussions with key personnel at the Ministry of Sport and at Sportt. Work was done from October 2013 to March 2014.

The remit of the Auditor General’s special audit did not appear to include the controversial Lifesport programme which was, in part, administered by Sportt. That programme was shutdown after a Government-ordered review found possible instances of fraud, theft, and maladministration.


Lord Coe, the IAAF vice-president who hopes to run athletics from next year, has admitted the crisis facing the sport is as serious as those sparked by the Ben Johnson and Balco doping scandals.

The former London 2012 chairman said allegations of systematic doping in Russian athletics, claims of a cover-up that involves senior IAAF figures and questions over the role of the son of the president, Lamine Diack, had added up to “a ghastly week for athletics”.

“We have to bring this tawdry, sorry episode to a close as quickly as we possibly can,” said Coe, who is likely to face a challenge from the Ukrainian IAAF vice-president, Sergey Bubka, for the presidency.

Coe said in his 40 years in athletics as a competitor and administrator the allegations facing the sport ranked alongside the shame of the 1988 Olympic 100m gold medallist Johnson and the Balco scandal that led to Marion Jones being banned.

“This is up there. Nobody is remotely suggesting these allegations are not serious,” he said. “I’m not afraid of embarrassment here. I would rather deal with this now than get to the point where nobody cares about the sport,” added Coe, pointing out he had helped to establish the recently convened independent ethics commission.

The president of the Russian athletics federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, has stepped down from his role as IAAF treasurer while the claims of institutionalised cheating are investigated, despite denouncing them as a “pack of lies”. Papa Massata Diack, an IAAF marketing adviser and the son of the organisation’s 81-year-old president, also stepped down pending the outcome of an investigation.

The Guardian has seen emails that suggest Papa Massata Diack asked for a $5m payment from Qatar during the bidding race for the 2017 world athletics championships in October 2011. The IAAF has said he denies “receiving any such payment nor ever acting in such a manner on behalf of the IAAF”.

Coe insisted he did not know anything about a list of 150 athletes with suspicious blood values referred to by the German broadcaster ARD. Produced between 2006 and 2008 by an IAAF official, it contains the names of three British athletes including one household name considered to have suspicious blood values.

“I don’t know about the existence of a list. It only got mentioned on German television as the third part of a trilogy,” said Coe, who has been an IAAF vice-president since 2007 and is chair of the British Olympic Association. “I don’t know, the IAAF does not know, what this list contains and whether it is a list that has any veracity at all.”

He said ARD should show the list to the IAAF ethics commission or Wada and said officials were prepared to travel to Berlin to see the filmmaker. Hajo Seppelt, the German documentary maker who uncovered the alleged doping and corruption in Russian athletics, said he had spent several days trying unsuccessfully to meet Coe in Monaco last week in order to discuss the issue.

The IAAF’s ethics commission, chaired by the British QC Michael Beloff, was first alerted to some of the allegations concerning Russian athletes and officials in March and is expected to complete its investigation in a matter of months.

Coe’s likely rival for the presidency, Bubka, has yet to comment in detail on the doping claims or the other allegations threatening to tear the IAAF apart. The Briton said it was dangerous to speculate on the basis of a single list.

“These could be musings, they could be suspicions. I was in athletics for 20 odd years, I was subject to that kind of speculation,” said Coe. “We’ve got to be very careful. A one-off reading does not prove anything at all.”

Coe has pointed to his lifelong battle against doping that included arguing for a life ban, his part in doubling the standard punishment from two years to four and his call for an independent anti-doping unit within the IAAF as evidence of his commitment to clean sport.


NATIONAL shot put record holder Akeem Stewart imitated female compatriot Cleopatra Borel’s gold medal performance at the just-concluded Central American and Caribbean Games in Mexico when he won gold in the men’s shot put at the Mexican Open Para-Athletics Championships 2014, also in Mexico, yesterday.
Stewart’s winning distance of 18.70 metres at the Athletic Track of the National Center (CNAR) established a new world record for the F44 category, shattering the previous record of 18.38m
Similar to Borel, Stewart was also successful in defending the title, which he captured last year in Medellin , Colombia, with a throw of 17.49m.
Stewart, who also competes in open events, gained classification as a Para-athlete in the F44 category last year. The F44 category is for athletes with a disability to the lower extremities to of the leg. He can now qualify to compete at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee ( TTOC) president Brian Lewis and Secretary General Annette Knott will represent the national Olympic committee  at the 2nd Annual America's Olympic Movement Best Practices Symposium . The two day symposium hosted by the United States Olympic Committee( USOC) will be held 11 -12 December at the Conrad Hilton Brickell Avenue, Miami.

Hosted by the United States Olympic Committee( USOC)  for Olympic leaders  in the Western Hemisphere the symposium provides a forum for National Olympic Committees ( NOC) from the Americas to share best practices in key functional areas that are essential to the success of an Olympic Committee.

Lewis will present as part of the Moderated Panel Discussion on NOC Resource Allocation The TTOC  will speak about the Resource Allocation Conceptual Framework from the perspective of Trinidad and Tobago sport .

The  Moderated Panel and Question/Answer discussion on Resource Allocation Best Practices will comprise Brazil Olympic Committee, Canada Olympic Committee, Puerto Rico Olympic Committee , US Olympic Committee and Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee.

The Americas Best Practices Symposium on National Olympic Committee Management and Sport Performance is a collaboration between the Pan American Sports Organization, the United States Olympic Committee and Olympic Solidarity .

Over the two days Olympic leaders will exchange knowledge and experience through case-study presentations, panel discussions, question and answer sessions and  break-out discussions.

All eight Trinidad and Tobago judokas medalled at the 14th Annual Barbados International Judo Tournament at the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex in Wildey, Barbados at the weekend.
T&T junior judokas won five gold, one silver and two bronze when the competition, that included 142 of the region’s top Judokas, converged in the “Land of the Flying Fish”.
The squad, coached by 2014 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games bronze medallist Christopher George and managed by Nigel Lopez, saw Jellion Jackman, Giovanni Lopez, Gabriella Wood, Xavier Jones and Luke Walk all walk away with gold medals while Joshua Ahwai captured silver and Adam Sui Butt and Adrian Aquan claimed one bronze apiece.
Six Caribbean powerhouses in judo converged in Barbados to test their skills at the Caribbean’s most important event on the region’s circuit. This meet, which is also used as a training ground for the region’s future Olympians, attracted countries such as St Lucia, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago and hosts Barbados.
Trinidad and Tobago, fielding one of the smaller teams with eight (8) judokas treated spectators to very exciting judo. The contingent of youngsters, many of whom were first time regional competitors, competed ferociously and earned a third place team finish overall.


Alia Atkinson became the first black woman to win a world swimming title when she triumphed in the 100m breaststroke at the world short-course championships in Doha on Saturday as more records tumbled.

Jamaican Atkinson, 25, claimed the title and equalled Ruta Meilutyte's world record of 1min 02.36sec in the process - although under governing body FINA rules this still equates to a new record.

Meilutyte appeared on course for a successful defence of her title only for her rival to move on to the Lithuanian's shoulder at the final turn.

Atkinson then clawed her way down the final length before out-touching the 17-year-old by 0.10sec.

She was completely unaware of what she had done, staring up at the scoreboard with an air of resignation before it gradually dawned.

"Me?," she mouthed, pointing at herself before the enormity of her achievement was absorbed and so started the celebrations.

She told AFP: "I couldn't believe it! It came down to the same thing as the 50 and on the 50 I got out-touched so in my mind I went straight back to that.

"I just thought 'oh okay' and looked up at the board and it didn't really click yet and then it really started to click. It took a while!"

Atkinson's role at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Florida is to encourage greater involvement of different communities in swimming and to promote water safety.

"Hopefully my face will come out, there will be more popularity especially in Jamaica and the Caribbean and we'll see more of a rise and hopefully in the future we will see a push," Atkinson mused.