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Jamaican stars back in training after dispute

7 August 2008

MVP Track Club members, including former world record-holder Asafa Powell and former world silver medallist Michael Frater, have decided to put their differences with Jamaican Olympic officials aside by reporting for relay practices on Tuesday.

Powell, along with clubmates Frater, Sherone Simpson and Shelly-Ann Fraser, skipped Sunday and Monday sprint relay practice sessions arranged by the Jamaican management staff at a pre-Olympic training camp here. The group was then summoned to an emergency meeting to iron out the row, and eventually both parties came to an agreement.

"They (MVP athletes) all gave their full commitments and turned up for training on Tuesday morning and participated at the required pace," team manager Ludlow Watts confirmed in a statement Tuesday.

The controversy between the MVP track club members and Jamaican administrators, which has marred the country's preparation for what is expected to be their most productive Olympic Games, had taken centre stage for the last four days.

MVP head coach, Stephen Francis, believed his athletes were taken out of his custody to work with unfamiliar coaches and claimed he had no input in their training.

However, a release from the Jamaica Olympic Association Tuesday evening stated otherwise.

"There is absolutely no truth to the allegations that Mr Stephen Francis will not be able to coach the athletes at the Olympics under his care, unless he has taken that decision not to coach his own athletes," the release said.

"Mr Stephen Francis had long indicated to the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (past and present) that he does not wish to be a part of the National Team's coaching staff."

The statement also said that Francis was among three coaches who were accredited personally to coach their athletes in Beijing.

"He was accredited as a personal coach for the athletes under his care for the Olympic Games, as was the case in all major championships including the World Championships in 2005 & 2007," the release added.

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