Home / Rio 2016 / Francis withdraws: TTCF backs down over Njisane’s support staff demands

Francis withdraws: TTCF backs down over Njisane’s support staff demands

Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) racing secretary David Francis has voluntarily conceded his position as team manager for national cyclist Njisane Phillip for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Francis’ withdrawal follows a Wired868 article on Friday 15 July, which detailed Phillip’s bitter disappointment that his teammate and proposed soigneur, Varun Maharaj, was not accredited for the Games. Instead, the TTCF opted to send Francis alongside the cyclist’s mechanic, Elijah Greene.

Photo: Njisane Nicholas Phillip celebrates after defeating Germany's Robert Forstemann during the London 2012 Olympic Games men's sprint round at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park in East London on 4 August 2012. (Copyright AFP 2016/Leon Neal)
Photo: Njisane Nicholas Phillip celebrates after defeating Germany’s Robert Forstemann during the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s sprint round at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park in East London on 4 August 2012.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Leon Neal)

After two days of discussions with the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), the two parties reached a decision that would leave Phillip and local sport fans relieved.

“Based on recent media reports received, urgent meetings held with the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) and concern for the cyclist’s welfare as an individual athlete,” stated a release by TTCF president Robert Farrier, “Mr David Francis has voluntarily withdrawn himself from the position of Team Manager. Mr Francis’ decision has been consequently relayed to the TTOC.

“It is unfortunate that this situation has escalated into the media, however, we are happy that we have an amicable resolution in the interest of the cyclist and the sport cycling on the whole.”

This morning’s meeting, which was held at the National Cycling Centre, was attended by TTOC President Brian Lewis, TTCF president Robert Farrier, TTCF racing committee chairman Joseph Roberts, TTCF racing committee secretary Gary Acosta and TTCF assistant racing committee secretary David Francis.

According to a TTOC media statement, Francis’ withdrawal: “will allow the TTOC to fill the vacant position on the Cycling Team as best as they see fit. The individual selected for this position will be chosen from the  short list of officials previously submitted by the TTCF  for the Rio Olympic Games.”

Maharaj was the only other name on the TTCF’s shortlist for the Games.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago cyclist Njisane Phillip. (Copyright Track Cycling News)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago cyclist Njisane Phillip.
(Copyright Track Cycling News)

The TTCF tried to defend its initial choice.

Farrier, via press release, said the local Olympic Committee informed the TTCF on Wednesday July 13 that only only two members could accompany Phillip to Rio. And, although the 25 year old cyclist made it clear that he wanted Maharaj, the TTCF opted for Francis instead.

“The Team Manager’s role is also of key importance since he/she ensures the efficient functionality of any team,” stated Farrier, “and is an established position on all International cycling teams.”

The local cycling body did not communicate its decision to Phillip or Maharaj.

Farrier said the racing committee, which is headed by Joseph Roberts, made the ruling based on precedent.

“The Racing Committee also noted that for the past two years and the 10 qualifying events for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, technical members representing the TTCF in the capacity of Team Manager and Mechanic were always selected for each of these events. This same Management Team composition was also utilised for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

“With that being said and given the limited allocation for staff members, the Racing Committee being guided by the TTCF Selection Policy and the precedence set by previous International Events, selected a Team Manager and Mechanic as the final two officials for the TTO Cycling Team to the Rio Olympic Games.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) president Robert Farrier (right) and general secretary Jacqueline Corbin. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) president Robert Farrier (right) and general secretary Jacqueline Corbin.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

In the end, under siege by public opinion and with an incensed star cyclist on its hand, Francis—and, by extension, the TTCF—decided to put the athlete’s wishes first.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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105 comments

  1. Question: Can the soigneur function as the Team Manager or do they need another person to fill the TM position?

  2. Mr Francis had said he would step aside if asked by the TTCF.

  3. Some sanity and respectability has returned to national sports.

    I just wish the Gymnastics Federation could have been the ones leading the way

  4. Nijsane is the man, a real talent.

  5. MAXIMUM RESPECT Mr FRANCIS Cliff Bertrand

  6. Njisane gets to select his boyfriend for a free trip and trinidadians must accept this right? I say to hell with Njisane, we don’t need this crap from a low class citizen

  7. Oh… “It is unfortunate that this escalated into the media”…thank God for the media and the ensuing pressure. Still relieved that we didn’t have more TTGF behaviour to deal with.

  8. Francis should be highly commended for this selfless, noble gesture.
    He should be sponsored to witness the games as a private citizen

  9. Never give up in what you believe in

  10. He right!!! …give our.athletes the best….

  11. So thrilled that at least one sports administrator saw the error of his ways and decided to step aside … wish the same could be said for TTGF

  12. Steups d man wanted to see dem brazilian woman and Njisane spoil he plans. Lollll

  13. Proud of you Mr Francis if a few others were to take a page from your book t&t will be a better place BIGUP TO YOU.

  14. Thank God ,good sense prevailed and athlete and country placed first…at least on face value.

  15. Withdraw my ass. Is pressure buss the pipe. Now if only it worked for Thema. Sigh!!

  16. Let his mind be at ease so that he can put in a very good performance .

  17. Common sense and decency prevails. Please buy Mr. Francis a snowcone…

  18. Oh how I wish Thema had that chance too like Njisane I am happy for him go make T&T proud son…

  19. Thank you David Francis, you did the honourable thing…kudos to you .

  20. Thanks for the update Lasana. Continue to be the Voice of the People. You should seriously consider changing from Wire868 to VOTP (Voice of the People). ?

  21. Whew… Good dense prevails!

  22. Congrats Lasana !!! But i still waitin on clause 13 by TTOC regards thema/dick issue

  23. That is the best news i’ve heard in a long time. Finally good sense prevails.

  24. any exposure for an athelete is very beneficial . the athelete who is taking the Gymnastic federation to court has cleared the way for this type of action and reaction , we must thank her for the precedent that was set , that will benefit all others

  25. Gene Samuel helped too. He stuck his neck out and added weight to Njisane’s claims by being an independent voice in this stand-off.

  26. *whew * one less placard to prepare…..thank goodness…..now if only I could get a tix to cycling…..dat event sell for months now……

  27. Thanks Lasana Liburd for being behind this. Heard the radio stations quoting your article

  28. Embarrassment and people power has won out. Especially as Njisane represents our best pre-Games medal hope.

  29. This is such refreshing news. Big up to Mr. Francis for doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do. Let’s give Njisane his best chance possible. Getting through those rounds especially in the keirin event is really a mind game. He should be in a better place with his chosen team around him. So happy for Njisane ?

  30. Vernal Damion Cadogan where yuh? A governing body reversed a lousy decision in Trinidad and Tobago. It can happen!

  31. Whichever body (the IOC or the TTOC) limits the cycling team to two officials even with only one athlete, should review its stance, as all three officials seem crucial to the team/athlete’s success.

  32. Note Mel Lissa how often I talk about effective mediation. The TTOC stepped in and they found a way out for the TTCF after two days of negotiating. No nonsense about “political interference”.
    That’s all I could ask of Sport Minister Darryl Smith. But I give up on that Mohawkian at the moment yes.

  33. Well done to the TTOC for its quick and successful intervention.

  34. And congratulations to the TTOC and its president Brian Lewis for playing the role of mediator

  35. He did the right thing. WOW! If only the TTGF would follow his lead

  36. Very pleased that the TTCF has taken a mature response to this matter. Well done! ????. Hopefully other organisations will learn from this example.

  37. Somehow I knew this would be sorted out. Very promising athlete

  38. Respect him for stepping aside! Big man ting dis.

  39. The benefits of standing up for oneself…

  40. Great!!! Dats what public pressure can do

  41. Amen!
    Now go bring us that medal!

  42. Why was Francis selected in the first place?

  43. I am the biggest Njisane fan. And wish him the best at the Olympics. But u representing an entire nation. U are not going on a trip to lime or make friends. Varun is in no way qualified . He should have qualified for the event as a cyclist, which he is and a very talented 1 i might add, if he wanted to attend the Olympics. Clearly putting self before country Njisane. Good luck same way though. Make our country proud.

  44. It’s a shame that so many following this story know so little but have so great an opinion. Based on the recent scathing threats against the TTCF and as a consequence the TTOC; I assume Varun will now be selected but in what official capacity? Is he a registered and certified masseuse so as to act as soigneur? Also has he been exposed to UCI technical training to act in an official capacity as manager? Notwithstanding this in the articles wherein the demands were made and threats to quit; there were also statements made that the cyclist did not receive any financial support but as the TTCF release states for the past 2 years a team was selected and sent to various qualifying events. Monies disbursed must be sanctioned by the TTCF. No doubt according to my record of Njisane’s activities that would include travels to Columbia, Philadelphia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and England. To me that’s a lot of support; oh and I forgot Canada too. Sadly the performances didn’t get him the points needed but thank goodness he’s going and getting what he needs and who he needs to perform and hopefully medal. So while I say thanks to Francis and the TTCF for meeting his demands and setting a good precedent for rational compromise., I would have preferred to see both Francis go to offer the technical support and Varun for moral support.

    • I am with u but wants certain touch that he is acustom to well let him have but lets hope he preform at the end he what wants to medal no blame

    • I also believe that it would have been best if all three could go. And Njisane doesn’t pretend that Varun is qualified or a specialist. But he thinks Varun will get him in the right mental state of mind to compete.
      In a deadlock like that, I think the athlete should win in an individual sport.

    • Is it that his demands were unreasonable? (I wished both could have gone as well)

    • Alexx Ali no not unreasonable but rules are only 2 can accompany the athlete. So a mechanic and manager/sogineur…

    • Hmm. For the Olympics, it’s difficult to tell an athlete “ok great. You put in the hard work for the last 4 yrs again. You did well, you’re going to the Olympics. Hooray! Now, out of your entire support staff,….we only get to pick 2. Mind you this is the most important competition in your career & the sporting world.” That’s a tough pill to swallow.

    • So this fool gets to pick his boyfriend to act as manager and everyone should be good with it? Smh

    • I’m worried that his demand will come and bite him in his butt in Rio…. The TTOC Admins will not (and mostly can not) pick up the slack of the void of a manager….. and i can tell as i was “girl for everything” (including mechanic) for the lone Triathlete at Commonwealth games in Glasgow… you can make the manager to be also goofer, but the other way around its difficult and that starts with simple things like booking training time for the Athlete, Icebath, massage and all that because at the sportsdesk you usually being told its all booked, so if you do not show a little talent on getting for your athlete what he needs and wants you end up with a unhappy one which as a result usually ends up: under-performing.

    • So if a protest has to be made or documentation issues? Who is going to do that?? Varun?

  45. Yup the spirit of greed running so rampant in this country, I feeling so shame, we can’t even send athletes in peace to compete without some drama, this country is desperately indeed of leaders and citizens with humility, integrity, morals and values, Lord put a hand…

    • You read the article? And the one that lead to this? How is it greed for a man to leave his family to support an athlete as an unpaid qualified manager? Just by posting such an article damaged the reputation of the man. What should have been negotiated was for qualified rep to go in order to meet international protocols and the athletes confidant for support.

  46. Same ol shit I went through as an Athlete that caused me to be a Cyclist instead

  47. Mr Francis is a Big Man with principles. Thank you sir.

  48. Well done…… Now on to medal…

  49. what pressure and civil society can do. we need more of this on urgent issue regarding our taxpayers money. this nonsense has to end

  50. At least common sense prevailed!

    • No it didn’t because instead of sending a qualified man AND the athletes requested confidant we now leave the managerial technical support to chance.

    • David Tardieu hmmm… I see… this throws a different light… It’s now a fiasco!

    • it very well may end up. Mr. Phillip soon will find out how much running around a manager does on his behalf at major games, i hope for him Varun is up to that task otherwise he will miss training opportunities recovery such as icebath, massage etc…. all things the manager has to run after and arrange, while he has on his beats and focuses on his mood (what he is supposed to do)… and yes, to clarify: i know, because i done been there including the mechanic, cause our sport doesn’t even get two supports for one athlete….

  51. Just the fact that Njisane had to threaten to pull out means all this went to far.

  52. Let’s just hope that after Rio Njisane isn’t victimised by the cycling federation ?

  53. Sooooo NOT worse than gymnastics then. Cause those in ttgf are still there giggling & ttoc have yet to deal with the issue.
    Francis, thank you for putting athletes first.

  54. We not interested in hearing.