RIGA - Authorities in Valmiera have held two U.S. athletes for playing for a local basketball club without the necessary work permits.
Kristine Petersone, a spokeswoman for the State Border Guard, told The Baltic Times that local immigration officials had detained two U.S. nationals, Ivan Elliott and Ronald Clark, team members who were playing without permits.
The sports director of the Valmiera sports club, Janis Klavins, said that the athletes had been summoned to the local immigration department on Oct. 30 for fining, but that they had received their work permits the same day, and he assumed the conflict had been settled.
However, Petersone said that the protocols have not been withdrawn but this doesn't cripple the team in any way as they can continue playing.
"Their work will continue as this protocol doesn't stop them from working, they simply have a fine."
The two U.S. nationals have been working without permits in Latvia from Aug. 30 to Oct. 30.
Petersone added that "there is no elongated process; there is simply this administrative protocol codex 189.1 that must be observed."
Both U.S citizens have been served administrative offense protocols for working without permits required by Latvian law. They may face fines of 100-500 lats (142-711 euro).
In the last two years, many foreign athletes from both the U.S. and Russia have been caught playing without the necessary working permits.
In July 2008, two Russian soccer players were caught playing for Riga soccer club, and in late 2007, two Americans were fined for playing for ASK Riga basketball club. Two Russian players were also caught working for the Liepajas Metalurgs ice hockey club without permits.
On Oct. 23, State Border Patrol enacted the administrative protocol against Tyrone Brazelton, who had played for the Ventspils basketball team. Later, team representatives informed authorities that Brazelton received a work permit on Oct. 6, but the protocol has been drawn up for the time between Sept. 23 and Oct. 6, and fines will most probably still have to be paid.
When asked to comment on why this seems to be so prevalent, Petersone said "It is hard to say why exactly, but it's important to note that it is not just athletes who are working without permits. It can happen in any other type of job as well."
Both administrative cases for Ivan Elliott and Ronald Clark are due to be heard on Nov. 12.