James Siaffa Complains Liberia to IPC Over Alleged Maltreatment
Monrovia – James Bobby Siaffa, alias Bobby the Big, has written the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) over allegation of maltreatment received from the Liberia National Paralympic Committee (LNPC).
In his letter (with unknown date), Bobby expressed his willingness to participate in the 2016 Paralympic Games, which kicked-off in Rio de Janeiro to a backdrop of color and music with boos for Brazilian President Michel Temer and Rio 2016 organizing committee president Carlos Nuzman.
“The purpose of this message is to inform you of my intention to participate at the Rio Paralympic Games. The issue I have currently is I am afraid and uncomfortable attending the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games with the president [of the LNPC], Mr. Jefferson Zoegbeh or the secretary-general [of the LNPC], Mr. Festus Robinson.
“Since 2010, I have expressed my concern to members of the NPC board. I was advised to be patient and the issues would be handled internally. Most recently, I took my complaint to the Ministry of Youth and Sports. My understanding is that the IPC was informed,” said Bobby, who sought the intervention of the IPC to compete in Rio.
He alleged that he has suffered constant verbal abuse by Zoegbeh and Robinson every time he complained about their insensitivity to his plight as a Paralympian.
Bobby also alleged that he suffered poor treatment and abandonment during the trips to London, England and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“Mr. Jefferson Zoegbeh and Mr. Festus Robinson have received government and private funding on my behalf and have failed to provide the funds to support my training and development. I have attached the picture of where I train.
“For example, the government provides yearly funds. The president’s son provided funds for training, etc. There has been a lack of effort to develop Paralympic sports in Liberia, recruit and train Paralympic athletes. There is no infrastructure to keep the IPC’s vision alive.
“I have so much more I want to say but I rather do so in person. I strongly believe and know that these two men have a lack of regard and interest in developing opportunities for disabled Liberians. I hope you understand that this was a tough decision for me,” concluded Bobby.
When contacted, Robinson accused one Kotie Mawolo, who couldn’t be reached as we went to press, as the mastermind behind Bobby’s letter.
“It was Kotie Mawolo, who wrote that letter for Bobby and asked him to just sign it. Kotie claims to be the international ambassador for athletics in America. I have not seen anything he has done with all the goodwill he has. I am into athletics. So he wants to create instability in the Liberia National Paralympic Committee.
“Kotie has been having a beef with us. I thought we settled that after the London 2012 Paralympic Games but it seems to me that he is still working behind the scene. He has since suggested that we gave the LNPC to Mrs. Richards, the wife of former deputy youth and sports minister Marbue Richards,” said Robinson, who said he’s yet to receive a notification from the IPC over Bobby’s letter.
Deputy Sports Minister Henry B. Yonton has confirmed that there have been some disagreements within the LNPC but the matter was settled by the ministry.
Liberia, who are yet to claim a medal at the Paralympic Games, missed out on Rio 2016 due to government’s inability to provide US$47,000 for the trip.
Liberia was one of 14 countries that debuted at the London 2012 Paralympic Games with powerlifter Bobby as its only athlete.
Bobby finished in seventh place in men’s 82.5kg. He was Liberia’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony in London.
Bobby became the first athlete from any sport to represent Liberia at the Paralympic Games in London.
On 8 May 2012, Bobby was suspended for three months after testing positive for the banned substance prednisone at the 2012 FAZZA International Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
His sentence was reduced from two years to three months because he had informed doping control officers prior to the test that he had taken a painkiller for a shoulder injury two weeks before the competition, and had been assured by a certified pharmacist that it did not contain substances on the prohibited list.