Vice president of racing, Desmond Roberts, is the latest high-ranking member of the T&T Cycling Federation (TTCF) to resign from the organisation within a tumultuous period dating back to 2021.
In giving reasons behind his resignation, which was handed in on August 30, Roberts stated that the federation is being run as a cartel and operating as a law unto itself and that he cannot work with persons who play with the mindset of young persons for their personal benefit.
Between the period of 2021 to 2022, the TTCF lost vice president - finance Claire Leach Lewis, Treasurer - Recena Leotaud, public relations officer Dawn Scott, and now Roberts, all for varying reasons.
Roberts, in his resignation letter, stated: "I currently hold the position of vice president of racing of the TTCF and I am grateful for the opportunity to have served in this position. However, it is with deep regret that with immediate effect, I wish to tender my resignation from the TTCF as vice president of racing."
He continued: “Managers and coaches selected for national teams as per the racing policy, fail in the execution of their responsibilities to supervise, keep records, and to show furthermore that the title of coach should be termed as caretaker coach for these events. The team trains on their own with minimum monitoring and it seems to me that people are there for a trip and to look good when the athletes succeed. This does not auger well for business if our objective is the progress of the team. Taxpayers’ money must be accounted for wisely. Managers and coaches should also be mindful of statements made around young cyclists when representing T&T abroad."
Roberts added: "No structure is in place for the management of the TTCF equipment/assets, and I do not wish to be aligned should there be any missing part or equipment. I believe there is no fair play, in relation to all cyclists and the TTCF must set these parameters for this to happen, and it must be to the benefit of all cyclists.
"There seems to be a cartel in place which does not seek the best interest of all cyclists. There are too many inconsistencies in the decision-making processes of the TTCF, e.g., despite recommendations by the racing chairman to select and start preparation of the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games team six months prior, this was only done three to four weeks prior, which resulted in many coaching issues. It is evident that decisions are being made by the cartel with no rules being strictly adhered to.
“There is a lack of proper communication between the TTCF and the cyclists it governs and this leads to issues at events and within clubs. I am very passionate about the sport of cycling and to this end very dissatisfied with some members of the racing committee and the way racing business is being conducted. I will only attend meetings in my capacity as a life member, to seek the interests of all cyclists in T&T."
Guardian Media Sports reached out to Roberts for clarification on is statement and he responded: "When I became racing chairman, I put a system in place where only cyclists who qualified for the national team could have used the equipment, because back then, the equipment was used by who is favoured to do so, and my thing is that it is government's money, so you do not want to go back to the government to ask for wheels when the wheels are being used by somebody for a keep fit.
"That's not what it is for, this is for national duty and this equipment costs a lot. I was trying to put a system in place where there could be a controlled flow of the equipment. My own cyclist, I turned down because he wanted to use the wheels for National Championships and I told him no. But after I told him no, someone else got approval and used them for the same national championships, so I called an emergency meeting to say this is not for that."
Roberts said he also took offence when Devante Laurence wanted to go to the 'Worlds' although he did not make the qualifying time and was a subject of ridicule and laughed at by members of the federation as his family wanted to pay for him to make the trip and participate.
He told Guardian Media he believes in giving all a fair chance because that same thing happened to Teniel Campbell - a rider Roberts personally manages - and she is now a top, world-class cyclist today.
Meanwhile, when contacted Rowena Williams, president of the TTCF, said she didn't know what Roberts was talking about since he was part of the decision-making in the federation.
Williams said: “The federation will have to have a conversation with Mr Robert to find out clearly what he is speaking about.”
About the use of equipment, she disagreed with the belief that this should be for national cyclists only: "The federation has to have a proper policy when it comes to that and right now the equipment that there is used for travelling national teams."
However, Roberts is firm in his position and said he was even more disturbed when, in a departure from custom, his issues were not even mentioned at a council meeting held on Saturday explaining that usually, the concerns expressed when a person resigns are raised at subsequent council meetings to be dealt and discussed, but that did not occur in this instance.