Sports — 15 February 2013
Cycling crisis – Minister of Sports intervenes

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Hon. Herman Longsworth held a press conference at the Sports Council conference room upstairs of the building at Rogers Stadium this afternoon at 4:30 where the Minister reported on his meeting earlier in the day with COPACI President, Jose Manuel Peleaz Rodriguez, to try and put an end to the constitutionala and leadership crisis presently crippling the sport of cycling in Belize.

In his address to the media present, the Minister revealed that he was unable to get the visiting official to agree on a critical matter – the constitution under which the Belize Cycling Association should hold its elections, which are now overdue. According to the Minister, “the question is not the contents of the constitution, but the legitimacy of the constitution” that is the impasse between the National Sports Council of Belize and the UCI, whose delegate insists that it only recognizes the last constitution lodged with it in 2006 by past President Emil Moreno.

That constitution speaks to a Belize Cycling Federation, but the Minister maintained that it was never lodged with the Sports Council, and up to the present, no one has been able to present the “minutes of any meeting where that constitution was brought to the membership for ratification.” And that has been the contention of most members of the cycling family, who would be barred from voting under the “federation” constitution.

Like in football some years ago, it seems the past cycling President had, without the consent or knowledge of the association members, gone ahead and registered a new constitution with the international cycling body, which purported to make the Belize Cycling Association into the Belize Cycling Federation. In such a Federation, only delegates from respective zone associations could vote, instead of the general membership as in times past.

It took football over a decade to unhook itself from the claws of this trap set by its 3-term President. In a last ditch effort to cling to power under the FIFA and Government of Belize agreed new FFB constitution, the incumbent FFB President had then attempted to stack the Electoral Commission with individuals sympathetic to his cause. The last cycling president, Emil Moreno, was one of those appointed to that FFB Electoral Commission. Coincidence?

Acknowledging that the Belize Cycling Association may be sanctioned by the UCI, Minister Longsworth said he would make every effort to convince the UCI that there is only one constitution that the Sports Council of Belize can recognize as legitimate.

Whether or not he is successful in that endeavor, the Minister declared that he was setting a deadline for elections as February 28. Since no cycling constitution had been lodged with the Sports Council by the end of January this year, as required by law, as far as he was concerned, no cycling association presently exists in Belize; and therefore he will appoint an Interim Committee to begin registration of members to the new Belize Cycling Association. Once elections are completed, the elected executive will prepare a constitution to present to the membership for ratification and registration with the Sports Council.

The Interim Committee will consist of 2 members each appointed by Emil Moreno and Dion Leslie, the gentlemen slated to contest the election, and 2 members appointed by the Sports Council; the committee will be chaired by veteran cycling official Melvin Torres.

Already there will, for the first time, be no Valentine’s Day Classic this year. And time is short to prepare for the Belmopan Classic; and then it’s the Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic. Whatever his gripes and concerns, the past cycling President needs to consider who the cycling family and Belizean fans in general will hold to blame for the calamity if this quarrel should mess up this year’s “Country.” But if we are to judge from the behavior of the past FFB President, that may hardly be a bother for his cycling friend.

Hopefully, we have all learned from the lesson of football. It looks like Minister Longsworth is listening to the voices in the cycling family, and is moving on the right track. Let’s keep the wheels rolling, guys. “Valentine’s” gaan; “Belmopan” eena trouble; wi definitely kyan afford fi lose wi “Country.”

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