“A THORNY ISSUE: Right move, Mr President”


KEITH YEARWOOD has lived for cycling for more than 25 years but now he has decided that it’s not worth dying for after a tumultuous period which saw him at odds with varying factions of those he wanted to govern.

I think he has made the right decision not to stand for another term as president at the court-ordered annual general meeting which is slated for today.

Simply put, why try to be a part of a system that doesn’t want you despite your best intentions to make an honest and genuine contribution?

Enough is enough. And as one biblical passage says it’s better to live on the house top than in a house full of confusion.

I believe that the time is right to make the sacrifice for the sake of the sport rather than put any self-interest first. Given the stormy, icy climate in which he was fighting for the good of the sport, there was no chance that his detractors would have made it easy for him and his executive to get anything done.

He could have placed the most forward thinking proposal on the table, it wasn’t going to make the slightest difference to those who wanted him out.

In fact, there were several attempts, particularly in the past decade to have him out but he somehow miraculously managed to stay at the helm.

The more resilience he showed, the more opposition he received. It became a test of wills while cycling became the loser against the backdrop of a myriad of controversy after controversy. I used to wonder how Yearwood managed to get anything done in the face of such stiff and sustained resistance.

After all, Barbados was still being represented at international meets and cyclists were still doing overseas stints in Colombia and Europe. Just to think what more could have been achieved if the house wasn’t divided.

It had to be a mammoth achievement to host three Caribbean road racing championships and a couple international track classics in light of the opposition he came up against.

Not to mention, that at one stage there was the short-lived Barbados Cycling Federation which sought to be the sport’s governing body. They eventually faded into oblivion as the world governing body and the Barbados Olympic Association continued to support the established Union led by Yearwood.

All of this movement had to be an indication that there was some form of dissatisfaction with the way Yearwood was running things over a period of time. It didn’t develop overnight.

It begs the question, though, what the pet peeves were about? Did they relate strictly to the governance of the sport or was it a case of turning it into a battle of personalities where some had private agendas and consideration for the negative impact it would have on the sport was at the bottom of the list?

Only those who were involved in the conflicts can answer those questions and once they can do so with a clear conscience then they can evaluate the kind of representation they gave to the cyclists.

In all of this, the cyclists were used as the pawns while the politics of division was being played out. There were several meets over the years where some clubs didn’t field competitors. How did this affect them and their development while the arrow was aimed at a particular target?

I believe that during the time of most of the conflict, there would have been chances at the annual general meetings to oust the Yearwood administration. If the opposing troops weren’t well organised to outfox the incumbents they could only blame themselves.

If it could be proven that there were constitutional breaches at the annual general meetings, there were proper outlets to challenge those actions. The first option for sporting bodies should be arbitration through agencies like the National Sports Council and the Barbados Olympic Association.

The sooner burning issues are settled the better it becomes for the cyclists because they are the ones who suffer the most. Funding from various entities is vital in non-profit organisations and not many people in a position to assist financially and otherwise will be keen to do so if a sport continues to get bad publicity.

So putting aside the personality clashes, it is clear who were the real victims in all of the confusion.

I am in no way trying to suggest that the Yearwood executive could have been right in every decision that was made.  Otherwise, it would have been foolhardy to pursue them with such venom, so some form of blame must be apportioned to the players involved in all sides of the ordeal.

If Yearwood adopted a stiff-necked approach to doing things he was wrong. If his opponents attempted to derail the plans of the executive at the expense of the cyclists, they were also wrong. And as the saying goes two wrongs can’t make a right.

This is why, I suppose, it regrettably had to take a court ruling to bring a resolution to the matter.

But will we learn anything from this sorry saga going forward? Will we back at this point just because a section of the membership become as dissatisfied with the new administration as they were with Yearwood’s?

It is easy to talk and criticise when you are not in power but the story can be completely different when you get your chance to govern. I am sure the newly elected body will have to make decisions which may not find the blessings of even some of those who support them now and this could also lead to another revolt which will set the sport back even further.

Governing is far from a black and white situation so how those chosen to lead manoeuvre could determine the success or failure of their tenure.

If there’s one lesson we can learn from the Keith Yearwood scenario is that you can’t put personality above the sport.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning journalist. Email andithornhill1@gmail.com