Cuban triple jumper Pichardo absconds, gets Portuguese job

Gold medalist Pedro Pichardo of Cuba celebrates after competing in the Men's Triple Jump finals at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada (AFP Photo/JIM WATSON)

Lisbon (AFP) - Cuban triple jump star Pedro Pichardo, the silver medallist at the 2013 and 2015 world championships who absconded from a training camp in Germany, was signed by Portuguese club Benfica, putting his international future at stake.

The 23-year-old, the 2012 world junior champion, is one of only five athletes to have broken the mythical 18-metre barrier with a personal best of 18.08m established in Havana in 2015.

"I am happy to represent Benfica and I hope to jump again beyond 18 metres with this club," said Pichardo of his move to Benfica, the multi-sports club better known for its famed football club.

According to specialist athletics website TrackArena, Pichardo has been in conflict with the Cuban federation which officially frowns upon professional sport.

His decision to "desert" his country's training base in Germany could lead to an eight-year ban from the Cuban team, the site reported.