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Cuban Track Coach Stays In Puerto Rico

September 24, 1985

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ A Cuban track coach defected from his nation’s delegation in Puerto Rico and has requested political asylum in the United States, athletic and federal officials said Tuesday.

The coach was in Puerto Rico over the weekend for the Cup of Americas Games, featuring teams from around the Western Hemisphere. He disappeared during the competition late Sunday, and later told Puerto Rico athletic officials he wanted to stay behind.

German Rieckehoff Sampayo, president of the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee, identified the Cuban as Rolando Diez Sire, who coached long jumpers on the communist nation’s team. Rieckehoff declined to give further details.

The Cuban delegation left the U.S. Caribbean Commonwealth without Diez on Tuesday, after the delegation head met with FBI agents and decided not to seek the coach’s return.

″He has deserted,″ said Jesus Molina Fernandez, president of the Cuban Athletic Federation. ″We don’t know his motives. Until now, Diez was apparently a fervent revolutionary and definitely anti-Yankee.″

He said Cuban authorities decided Diez no longer ″possesses this special quality.″

Cuban athletes visit Puerto Rico virtually every year for various competitions. The last defection was in 1981, when the coach of the Cuban water polo team left the squad.

Francisco Guerrero received political asylum and now coaches Puerto Rican water polo teams.

Two Cuban athletes who defected during the 1979 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico also received political asylum.

Update hourly