George Barber, father of pole vault world champ Shawn Barber, banned from coaching
Governing body learned Barber was sentenced to 36 months in U.S. prison in 2007 for having sex with student
The father and coach of Canadian pole vault world champion Shawn Barber has been banned by the national governing body for track and field after it learned of George Barber's 2007 criminal conviction on charges of having sex with a student while he was employed at a U.S. high school.
According to an Athletics Canada memo dated Nov. 5, 2015, that was obtained by CBC Sports, the organization decided that George Barber "is no longer a member in good standing, and is not authorized to act in any capacity as a representative of the association. With the Coaching Association of Canada's support, Mr. Barber also cannot act in any coaching capacity on Canadian soil, or abroad as a representative of Athletics Canada."
"It has come to our attention that Mr. Barber has a criminal conviction dating back to 2007 and as a result is a registered sex offender in the state of New Mexico. This constitutes a major infraction under Athletics Canada's member conduct policy, and is grounds for a permanent ban."
The memo went on to say that Athletics Canada "has updated its national team policy in regards to coaching staff to require an Interpol search on all individuals living outside of Canada."
The organization did not respond to requests for comment.
"Athletics Canada did what they felt they had to do," Shawn Barber told CBC Sports through his Toronto-based agent Brian Levine. "I understand and don't fault them for their actions.
"My training and competition plans will continue as programmed and will hopefully result in successful performances. My dad never held an official position with Athletics Canada, so it's really a non-issue. My father has always been supportive of me and I'm sure he will continue to be my biggest fan and support me in whatever I choose to do."
George Barber declined to comment via Levine.
He was sentenced in February 2007 to 36 months in prison after a jury in New Mexico convicted him on two counts of criminal sexual penetration by a school employee. The jury acquitted Barber, who was 45 at the time of his sentencing, of eight other sex charges and one count of bribery or intimidation of a witness.
The charges stemmed from George Barber's involvement with a 17-year-old girl in 2005, when he worked at Las Cruces (New Mexico) High School as a physical education teacher and track coach.
He had been with the Las Cruces school district for 11 years at the time of his arrest in August 2005. He was placed on leave before resigning two months later.
As a result of the criminal conviction, George Barber was required to register as a sex offender upon his release.
Historic gold medal
Shawn Barber, 21, won gold in the men's pole vault at the track and field world championships in August in Beijing. The victory gave Canada its first world title in track and field in 12 years, and its first pole vault medal of any kind at the world championships.
Earlier in the summer, he won gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Though Shawn Barber was born and raised in New Mexico, the dual citizen now calls Toronto his hometown and chooses to compete for Canada — following in the footsteps of his father, who represented Canada as a pole vaulter at the 1983 world championships.
George Barber competed alongside his son at this year's Canadian track and field championships in Edmonton and cleared a height of 3.80 metres. Shawn Barber won the event after clearing 5.60 metres.
It was unclear whether the ban issued by Athletics Canada would prevent George Barber from entering future events as an athlete.