Goodwill Cyclist Reported Missing
Jul. 28, 1998
NEW YORK (AP) _ A Cuban cyclist was missing from his team as it returned home from the Goodwill Games Monday and officials said the case had been turned over to law-enforcement agencies.
Ivan Dominguez was last seen when he left his hotel room around 7 p.m. Sunday night ``and has not been seen since,'' a statement from the games' organizers said.
``No contact has been made with the Goodwill Games,'' the statement said. ``This is now a matter for law-enforcement agencies to handle. Should he surface, the appropriate authorities will assume jurisdiction.''
An official with the Cuban delegation confirmed that Dominguez had left the team.
``He's been missing since yesterday (Sunday). He has not returned to Cuba's hotel after a short leaving. We don't know where he actually is,'' the official said, speaking on the condition that he not be identified.
Christian Jimenez Molena, the Cuban Goodwill Games team leader, said Dominguez was not with the other cyclists when they departed Monday morning but that his visa runs until Aug. 3, the day after the games end.
``If he is not back by then, maybe we can say he left,'' Molena said. ``And if he left, that's his problem.''
City police said the case was not in their jurisdiction and would be handled by the State Department. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marva Long said she knew nothing about the matter.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service also said it had no information on the case.
Dominguez, 22, from Playa, Cuba, competed for a Pan American all-star team in the cycling at Wagner College on Staten Island Saturday and Sunday. The team placed sixth.
The possibility of defections by Cuban athletes arises whenever they compete outside their homeland, and Goodwill organizers had talked privately in recent days about the chances of athletes disappearing as their return to the economically strapped communist island neared.
Two members of Cuba's national swim team disappeared from a Puerto Rican camp where they were training for the Goodwill Games earlier this month. Nubis Rosales and Daimara Munoz later said they planned to defect to the United States.
In 1993, 43 Cuban athletes defected during the Central American and Caribbean Games in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Four prominent Cuban baseball players and a coach reached the Bahamas last month on a raft, seeking asylum in third countries.
Top Cuban athletes receive favored treatment, but salaries run about $10 per month and living standards pale beside those of millionaire athletes abroad.
In 1996, a 15-year-old Cuban baseball player who says he could no longer trust his teammates defected to the United States. Catcher Yalian Serrano Castro was in the country for the Junior Pan American Baseball Championships outside St. Louis.
And at the Olympics in Atlanta that summer, star pitcher Rolando Arrojo defected and was branded a traitor by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Longtime boxing coach Mariano Leyva also sought political asylum during the Summer Games.