The T&T Cycling Federation (TTCF) is set to take legal action against cyclists, Olympians Njisane Phillip and Keron Bramble, as well as former manager Philip Whiteman for outstanding equipment and monies owed to the federation.
Guardian Media Sports learned that the decision was made at a general council meeting on Saturday (September 19) and pre-action protocol letters via registered mail and emails, were sent out to the trio to inform them about the membership’s decision.
Both Phillip, who finished in the quarter-finals round of match sprint event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, and Bramble, who claimed the bronze medal at the Elite Pan Am Championship last year, are accused of taking five out of the six pairs of wheels purchased for the national team to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games, which had been rescheduled for 2021.
Whiteman, who purchased the equipment on behalf of the cycling federation in France, is being called upon to hand over an outstanding balance estimated to be $150,000, Guardian Media Sports was reliably informed.
On December 27 last year, former national coach and technical director Erin Hartwell, in an official letter of complaint wrote: “Please be advised that on Monday, December 23, Njisane Phillip came into my office and told me directly that he was taking some of the new Mavic race wheels as his own property. I explicitly communicated to him that the wheels were the property and assets of the TTCF procured for the national team through the Sport and Culture Fund grant. I repeatedly told him that he was not allowed to take the wheels from the National Cycling Centre without approval from the TTCF.”
Hartwell, who has been credited as one of the country’s most successful coaches, continued in his report: “He proceeded to open the boxes containing the new equipment and take five of the wheels into his possession. I continued to inform him that the wheels are not his property and that I will have to report this as theft to the Sports Company and the TTCF. He ignored my repeated direct order not to take the equipment. He took five of the new Mavic wheels (two rear disks, two front disks, and an iO five-spoke). The equipment has a retail value of US$15,600.”
Bramble, on the other hand, was said to have in his possession two of the wheels and has refused to return the equipment, despite numerous attempts by the TTCF via letters and phone calls.
According to a member who participated in general council meeting and spoke under the condition of anonymity: “Phillip’s reluctance to hand the wheels back to the cycling federation was due to his generosity in the past to lend his personal equipment to his teammates during meets and training, without any form of compensation from the TTCF. As a result of this, he felt that he was owed the equipment.”
Efforts by Guardian Media Sports to reach Phillip, Bramble and Whitman yesterday for a response about the general council’s decision proved futile.
Whiteman was the manager of the team and representative of the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT) that participated at the UCI Cycling World Cups in Australia, New Zealand and London.
The general council member added that after they received monies from the Sports and Cultural Fund last year, the TTCF gave Whiteman an estimated sum of $375,000 for travel to France and pay off a balance for six pairs of wheels to help the riders at the World Cups and also in training locally.
The member said that the meeting was informed that Whiteman refused to hand over the remaining amount, although the invoices clearly showed there was an outstanding balance from the purchase the equipment.