Olympic sprint champion Donovan Bailey arrived at the Pan Am Games today, almost 24 hours after the men's 100-meter race, still in the middle of a storm of criticism over skipping the race.
But an unapologetic Bailey pointed the finger squarely at Canadian officials, saying it wasn't his fault he wasn't picked for the race.
"It wasn't a choice made by myself. I wasn't selected," he said.
The former world record holder has taken a public relations hit over missing the Games' marquee track event. He will run in the 400-meter relay, and reportedly received a $132,000 promotional fee from organizers.
After a workout this afternoon, a smiling Bailey ducked critical questions the way Wayne Gretzky dodged bodychecks.
"I've said this a thousand times: I wasn't selected," he said. "After I was not selected [following last month's Canadian track and field championships], then I decided to take a couple of days off and rest. If I was selected, then I would have gone directly back to Austin [Tex.] to train and prepare for it.
"You can't make a decision after I've been sitting at home and resting for a week."
Canada was allowed two sprinters in the Games. After Bailey finished third at the nationals, Athletics Canada selected Bruny Surin and Brad McCuaig, the two runners who beat him, for the team. But Surin dropped out and Canadian track officials asked Bailey to run as the second Canadian. He refused.
"You're beating this up and you understand you're not getting anywhere with it," Bailey said. "I'm in no control of the selection."
Bailey got support today from veteran sprinter Angela Bailey (no relation), who has returned to competition at the age of 37. "You've got to know a lot about Athletics Canada before you can judge him," she said. "Donovan is reacting to how he was treated by Athletics Canada. That's all there is to it."
U.S. Woman Wins
The lead changed hands three times during the women's all-around event, but when the chalk dust settled, U.S. gymnast Morgan White, 16, emerged with the gold.
Silver went to Canadian Michelle Conway, 15.
White's teammate Jennie Thompson, who will celebrate her 18th birthday Thursday, held the lead at the start but fell from the beam in the final minutes and into bronze medal position.
Two Peruvian wrestlers who disappeared from their team camp have not been found, police said.
The Andean nation's delegation declared that Luis Bazan and Lucio Vazquez were still missing on Saturday after they failed to return from a jog on Friday morning, the last time they were seen.