Cuba allows athletes to compete abroad

Havana: Cuba has given the green light to top athletes in the country to take part in the foreign leagues, as long as those arrangements don`t interfere with key national commitments.

The decision was passed at a meeting of the Council of Ministers, which tackled new policies that allow sports figures, from athletes to coaches and trainers, to profit from their talents.

The new policies are set to take effect in January 2014, ending Cuba`s decades old ban on professional sports and hopefully stemming the tide of athletes that have had to defect to accept lucrative contracts abroad.

"A Cuban high-performance athlete that fulfills his commitments to national teams has the possibility of being hired by foreign teams, (and is) protected by the National Sports, Physical Education and Recreation Institute (INDER) and Sport Federations from being treated as merchandise," said state daily Granma.

"In case of being hired abroad, the athlete will take into account being present in Cuba for the fundamental competitions of the year."