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Cuban boxers to be sent home from Brazil

  • Story Highlights
  • Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro has accused two boxers of defecting
  • Boxers deserted their team during last month's Pan American Games in Brazil
  • Brazil police source said they now wanted to go home
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) -- Two Cuban boxers who deserted their team during last month's Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro will be sent home to the Communist-run island, Brazilian police said Friday

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Cuban boxers Guillermo Rigondeaux, right, and Erislandy Lara arrive at a police station Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.

Guillermo Rigondeaux, two-time bantamweight Olympic champion, and welterweight world champion Erislandy Lara were briefly detained Thursday in a resort town in Rio de Janeiro state for not having travel documents.

After leaving their team, they apparently had wanted to go to Europe and made no request for asylum in Brazil, but a police source said they now wanted to go home.

"They expressed their will to return to Cuba," a police source told Reuters. "They will be deported; we are waiting for their documents and air tickets from the consulate."

Travel documents of Cuban athletes are usually kept by the leaders of the country's delegation.

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro has accused the two boxers of defecting, saying they betrayed Cuba for dollars.

Police chief Felicio Laterca said Friday that the two were in a Rio hotel and police were watching them to prevent them "being seduced again" by foreign sports agents. One agent had sought to send them to Germany on professional contracts.

Despite the desertions that often hit Cuban teams at international events, Cuba still snatched more gold medals in boxing than any other country at the Pan American Games with five out of 11.

Rafael Dacosta, a member of the Cuban handball team, left the Rio athletes' village in the first week of the games and later was seen in Sao Paulo state trying to arrange a contact with a local handball team.

At the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 13 Cubans defected, while last December Cuban boxers Yan Barthelemy, Yuriolkis Gamboa and Odlanier Solis deserted while training in Venezuela.

All three are now pursuing professional careers in Germany. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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