The wound of the ‘Don Quixote nine’ that the athletics federation sanctioned is closed 50 years later | Sports

Pedro Carda does not touch the chocolate cake, the star dessert of a meal in which the president of the Spanish athletics federation, Raúl Chapado, has decorated with the federative silver medal. He speaks. “We were simply passing by and they hit us,” he says with wisdom and distance. “They were the last years of Francoism. We were well-travelled, open, modern young people, and in our federation, with Rafael Cavero as president, there was also a breath of new air… But we collided with the most closed sector of the regime that wanted our lesson to serve as an example.”

A 75-year-old digestive surgeon, Carda was one of the best Spanish sprinters of the 1970s. Spanish champion of the 400m hurdles and fifth man, reserve, in the historic relay –Sánchez Paraíso, Sarria, García López and Carballo– that almost was able to surpass the United States at the 72nd Munich Olympic Games thanks to the passing of the baton technique in the sixth support implemented by Manuel Pascua Piqueras. When García López’s curve ended, Carballo, the fourth reliever, began to move and in the sixth support he drew back his left arm hoping to touch the baton to grab it, but his fingers closed in the void. There the adventure ended and the anguish and eternal lament began, and this was clearly talked about at the meal before reaching the chocolate, but even more was said about an old wound that still causes them grief.

Publication of the sanction in the magazine ‘Spanish Athletics’

Carda is one of those known as the Don Quixote nine, nine athletes whom the athletics federation punished with a three-year suspension in 1973 for daring, quixotically, of course, to ask for better food, laundry, and bottled water, which they They opened the Vallehermoso stadium for training and a minimum diet in a concentration organized by the Spanish Federation of University Sports (FEDU), ahead of the Moscow Universiade. On the sanctioned list, along with Carda, were the best athletes of the time, a brilliant generation: Manolo Carballo, José Alcántara, Gonzalo Juliani, Francisco García López, Isidro Solórzano, Francisco Morera, Manuel Soriano and Julio Gude.

The president of the FEDU, Claro Sánchez Mayoral, a Falangist, was the last link in a chain that began in the moth-eaten office of Torcuato Fernández Miranda, minister general secretary of the Movement, the name given to the gears of a regime characterized by immobility. , and head of Sports, and went by Juan Gich, heir of Juan Antonio Samaranch at the head of the National Delegation of Physical Education, ancestor of the current Higher Sports Council (CSD). When the naive athletes handed him the complaints written on a napkin from the Don Quijote restaurant, where they ate badly, Sánchez Mayoral considered it a declaration of insolence and rebellion, and reported it to his bosses, who immediately decreed an exemplary and, malevolently, sanction. , they forced Cavero, who viewed the athletes with sympathy, to be the executive arm as president of athletics.

The letter requesting amnesty to Prince Juan Carlos.

The athletes appealed by official means and also by sentimental means, with a letter requesting “amnesty” sent to the then Prince Juan Carlos, Olympian at the Munich Games like some of those retaliated against and signed by dozens of athletes. The Prince gave no sign of even having read the letter. Some saw their sanction reduced in the offices but the majority abandoned athletics and almost sports. Alcántara suffered difficulties performing in rugby and Carballo tried to be a ski coach. The athletes found out from the press about the sanction, issued on August 15, 1973. Nobody communicated anything directly to them.

50 years later, when one of them, Morera, had died, the wound still hurt so much that finally the nine mobilized and asked the federation to please erase the dishonor that accompanied their names, annul the sanction and proclaim its injustice. And in a Madrid restaurant, with four of them present –Carda, Carballo, Solórzano and Soriano—and José María Morera representing his brother, last Wednesday, Chapado responded to the petition in an act that was more emotional than solemn with the joint signature of a document in which the federation recognizes the right of athletes to “claim decent conditions”, “restores the honor of athletes”, shows its “respect” for their sporting career and “regrets” the “facts that separated them from of the competition.” The athletes, for their part, recognize that “their honor has been repaired.”

“It was what is known as a flat sanction, without a disciplinary file that would allow the athletes to exercise their right to defense. And in fact, in our files there are no minutes or files or any trace of a sanctioning procedure being opened, so our disciplinary committee showed its incompetence to respond to the athletes’ request,” says Ana Ballesteros, head of services. legal representatives of the federation and the person who found a way to repair the problem. “We have resorted to the tool of so-called historical restorative mediation, a useful method to repair events from the past that lack a legal formula in the present and transforms the victim-offender relationship.”

Following the restorative mediation procedure, Chapado, after listening to the story of the aggrieved athletes, proposed to his Governing Board the recognition of the athletes that was reflected in the confirmed document, the food, the insignia, the chocolate cake and a phrase that some of those present did not refrain from exclaiming: “Never again.”

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2023-12-03 04:15:00
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