Sierra Leone cyclist cleared of Ebola, competes in Commonwealth Games
GLASGOW – Reacting to sensationalistic headlines such as “Ebola Terror at Commonwealth Games” in a British newspaper, officials said on Friday that a Sierra Leone cyclist passed tests for the Ebola virus and competed.
“There is no Ebola in the athletes’ village,” a games statement said. “We can confirm an athlete was tested for a number of things when he fell ill last week, including Ebola. The tests were negative and the athlete competed in his event on Thursday.
“We are dismayed by some of the sensational and misleading headlines to date and request that these are not repeated.”
Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, added that “the headlines and the reports were not only sensationalist, but irresponsible.”
Another Sierra Leone cyclist was possibly missing, but the team and games organizers were not yet concerned about Mohamed Tholley, who pulled out of the time trial on Thursday and was entered in the road race on Saturday.
The athlete tested for Ebola was road cyclist Moses Sesay, 32. He was admitted to a Glasgow hospital last week after feeling unwell, and doctors tested him for various conditions, including Ebola, which is blamed for more than 700 deaths in an outbreak in three west African countries, including Sierra Leone.
Sesay was passed fit, and released from hospital in time to compete in the individual time trial on Thursday, when he finished 56th and last of those who completed the race.
“I was admitted for four days and they tested me for Ebola. It came back negative but they did it again, and this time sent it to London, where it was also negative,” Sesay was quoted as saying.
Games spokesman Jackie Brock-Doyle said if athletes become ill, they are tested for whatever ailments they are suffering from “and that was the case with the athlete that has been widely reported about over the last 24 hours. It is not a whole Ebola testing regime in place.”
Games organizers spoke on Friday to Sierra Leone chef de mission Unisa Deen Kargbo after he was quoted as telling the Daily Telegraph that they “do not know where” the 25-year-old Tholley has gone.
“We have now contacted the chef de mission and asked if they are concerned about the welfare of this athlete, has he gone missing, and whether they would like us to help,” Brock-Doyle said. “And they have said they are not concerned about the welfare or whereabouts of this athlete.”
Organizers could intervene only if Tholley was on an official, final start list and did not turn up, which has yet to happen. If an athlete is withdrawn from an event before it starts, organizers do not pursue the matter.
On Thursday, Seychelles’ national football team forfeited an African Cup qualifying game against Sierra Leone because of fears over the spread of Ebola, preferring to withdraw from the competition rather than allow its opponent to travel to the Indian Ocean island.
AP Sports Writer Rob Harris contributed to this story.
© 2014 The Canadian Press