07/15/2015 12:42 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 01:12 EDT

Cuban coach says four members of rowing team defect from Pan Am Games

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — The coach of the Cuban rowing team says four rowers have defected from the Pan American Games.

Juan Carlos Reyes says Leosmel Ramos, Wilber Turro, Manuel Suarez and Orlando Sotolongo have left the team and travelled to the United States.

The Games rowing venue in St. Catharines, Ont., is only a few kilometres from the U.S. border.

Reyes says Ramos and Turro dropped out before the regatta began on Saturday while Suarez and Sotolongo were in earlier races and then withdrew.

He said they have been in touch with teammates through Facebook.

Games officials said this morning that they weren't aware of the defections.

They said their protocol for dealing with defections includes working with the Games' integrated security unit and, if necessary, the affected country's national Olympic committee.


The Canadian Press