Brazilian sport climbers have been banned from international competitions this year after the International Federation of Sport Climbing suspended the country's membership over unpaid debts.
The Confederação Brasileira de Montanhismo e Escalada, which governs sport climbing in Brazil, owes a total of 4,395 euros (about $6,427) to the IFSC. Most of that debt is from the annual fees that the IFSC charges member countries. Until last year, the CBME had a standing agreement with the IFSC to pay the outstanding balance in installments.
"Around the end of 2009/beginning of 2010 the first signs of a shift in attitude appeared," CBME president Silvério Nery told Blog de Escalada. "There was a change in the structure of the IFSC (a representative of the US became the treasurer, before that it was a Swiss-Italian) and we got an email with a "past due" bill dating back to 2005 and threatening to block the athletes from participating."
The IFSC has doubled its annual membership fee over the past four years, raising it from €1,000 to €2,000.
In an email sent to the IFSC earlier this month, Nery said that there were six athletes from Brazil who were interested in competing in the Arco World Championship, and that they would try to get money from their sponsors to help cover the debt.
"We hope that the current situation can be reverted and we can be "back to normal business" in a few weeks, but we hope the above considerations can help you better understand the reality of other countries outside Europe and North America," he wrote.
While Brazil has a sizable and active climbing community, the country's athletes have traditionally not stood out in IFSC competition, which continues to be dominated by European and Asian climbers. Nery said that the small number of Brazilian climbers affiliated with clubs had contributed to the CBME's financial difficulties.
"Today we have just 1,450 paying members, including all of the clubs and federations," Nery told ESPN Brasil. "The vast majority of climbers and mountaineers aren't inclined to pay a small club membership fee. It's a shame."
The CBME is currently collecting donations to pay off its debt. You can find the fundraiser page (in Portuguese) here.
Video: Janine Cardoso climbs Ensaio de Orquestra. Cardoso is among the athletes who could be affected by the ban.