Even before Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace, the Barbados Cycling Union (BCU) was struggling to attract sponsorship and will continue to do so.
This is the opinion of BCU president Keith Yearwood, who told NATIONSPORT that sponsors in Barbados tended to come on board after the fact.
“In Barbados, we tend to pay homage to people when they win something and win something big. We don’t nurture them from the cradle. And that is our major challenge. We only see success when someone comes first, second or third. Even in the first ten, we don’t see that as success.”
Yearwood made specific reference to Javed Mounter, who won a silver medal at the 2011 Junior Pan-American Championships, set a Barbados record at the International Cycling Union’s Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Moscow and was later named Cyclist Of The Year.
Mounter is trying to secure sponsorship to train overseas because the Randolph Field Velodrome is out of bounds due to the construction work being carried out at the National Stadium. However, the Cycling Union hasn’t been able to convince sponsors to bank on the youngster who turns 19 next month.
For more than 15 years, United States cyclist Armstrong was the face of international cycling, winning seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005 as well as a bronze medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in the men’s time trial.
Aided by the testimony of several former teammates, the United States Anti-Doping Agency built a case which resulted in Armstrong’s Tour de France titles being taken away. The International Olympic Committee is yet to make a determination on the medal.
Yearwood said this was the type of publicity that cycling did not need.
And the effects are already being felt in international cycling. Dutch bank Rabobank recently ended its 17-year sponsorship of that country’s elite team, sending shockwaves across the sport.
Yearwood said that the International Cycling Union had made a concerted effort to clean up the sport and that fact was stressed at every congress.
There was also an online interactive programme called True Champion Or Cheat where anyone could get information on anti-doping.
Barbados Olympic Association president Steve Stoute also weighed in on the issue.
“I think that a great deal has been achieved in the sport of cycling over the past four or five years in respect to management control in the use of drugs,” he said.
“It was extremely prevalent in the past and it made it very difficult for clean riders to excel on the international circuit. We have been touched here by that problem, and it was probably motivated by the fact that nearly everybody else was doing it.
“A lot has been achieved by the international federations and by governments which have moved to ban, take action and prosecute individuals using banned substances and taking banned substances into specific countries. I’m optimistic that, going forward, the future looks better,” Stoute said.