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Reports: Hurdler Orlando Ortega deserts Cuban team, whereabouts unknown

Aug 21, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT

Orlando Ortega Getty Images

Cuban sprint hurdler Orlando Ortega disappeared after missing the 110-meter hurdles final at the World Track and Field Championships last week, according to Cuban and Russian reports.

Ortega, who placed sixth at the 2012 Olympics, has already been ruled out becoming a naturalized Russian, the president of the Russian athletics federation said.

“The Russian Athletics Federation is not interested in Ortega’s services as an athlete,” Valentin Balakhnichev told R-Sport. “I have no information about the location of Ortega, as we haven’t received any requests from him. It was his decision to leave his team, and he didn’t return to his homeland and it will weigh upon his conscience.”

Ortega, 22, was suspended by the Cuban track and field federation earlier this summer for “indiscipline,” but that six-month ban was lifted before the World Championships. He owns the third-fastest time in the world this year behind world champion David Oliver and Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment.

Cuba’s most famous track and field athlete, Dayron Robles, the 2008 Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles, was similarly banned earlier this year and did not compete at worlds.

Robles had said in January he would no longer compete for Cuba, and his coach said the same month that Robles would retire due to lack of attention from Cuban officials, though Robles went on to enter competitions in July.

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