The president of the Rwanda Cycling Federation, Aimable Bayingana, has resigned following multiple allegations of corruption and sexually abusing female riders.
Bayingana stood down together with his entire executive committee including two vice-presidents, advisors, secretary general and treasurer.
He is also the spokesperson of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), which has ruled Rwanda since 1994 under strongman President Paul Kagame.
The federation authorities declined to comment on the development.
The Rwanda Investigative Bureau announced that they had received “the case and it is under investigation” and were not willing to comment further.
The sports ministry is also investigating the allegations.
“The resignations by the cycling federation officials happened last evening and we are also investigating the allegations. But since these are crimes, we cannot comment any further; we will leave it to Rwanda Investigative Bureau to do its work,” Shema Maboko, Permanent Secretary at the sports ministry, told AFP.
Following the scandal, the ministry of sports is now planning to introduce a policy against sexual abuse that will govern all sports federations and activities in the country.
The scandal rocking the federation unfolded after the former national team coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer and Kimberly Coats, also founders of the Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Rwanda’s Northern Province, fell out with Bayingana and exposed the goings-on in the cycling federation.
The duo, credited for the success of the national team, left Rwanda after disagreeing with Bayingana on several issues affecting cycling.
In an open letter addressed to Bayingana, published by a local publication, American Boyer accused the cycling federation boss of frustrating efforts to develop the sport, arrogance, having excessive power, mistreating cyclists and sexual harassment among other accusations.
“We are aware that sexual assault and corruption happens and it is our prerogative to fight it. We are strong on it. We have been using the national policies against sexual exploitation,” Maboko added.
Investigations into Bayingana began shortly after local media reported that he was allegedly sexually exploiting female riders –- most of whom are poor and uneducated.
Cycling is a much loved sport in the country, and President Kagame once considered making it the national sport.
Cycling legend Eddy Merckx, 74, was out of intensive care on Monday after being treated for a serious head injury suffered when he fell from his bike.
The five-time Tour de France winner was hurt Sunday during a bike outing with friends and taken to hospital in Dendermonde, near Ghent in Belgium, Het Nieuwsblad newspaper reported Monday.
Stephane Thirion, the rider’s friend and biographer, told AFP in the evening that Eddy Merckx had “left the intensive care unit”.
The hospital declined to comment.
Earlier, former Anderlecht footballer Paul Van Himst, a long-time friend of the cyclist, told local television: “I contacted his wife Claudine yesterday. She said he is doing well given the circumstances.”
Egan Bernal clinched victory in the Tour de France on Sunday after parading into Paris safely in the overall leader’s yellow jersey, becoming the first Colombian winner of cycling’s greatest prize and its youngest in more than a century.
With the sun setting behind the Arc de Triomphe, the 22-year-old Ineos rider completed the 21 stage, 3,409km (2,118 miles) marathon around France 1min 10sec ahead of 2018 champion and teammate Geraint Thomas.
Colombian spectators thronged the Champs Elysees to witness the traditional eight-lap finale, where Australia’s Caleb Ewan, also 22, won his third stage of the 2019 edition on the culminating mass bunch sprint.
A British cyclist set a new world record Monday by travelling around the globe in 79 days — beating the fictional exploits of Phileas Fogg by a day.
Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont rode into Paris 78 days, 14 hours and 14 minutes after he set off from the French capital, smashing the previous record of 123 days for a round-the-world bike trip.
Arriving in evening rush hour traffic under light drizzle, the 34-year-old rode the last cobbled mile to the Arc de Triomphe with a 20-strong entourage on wheels, including a man in a top hat on a penny-farthing bicycle.
Some 50 supporters were at the monument to greet him, including his tearful wife Nicci and his daughters Harriet, four, and Willa, one.
“I doubt I’ll ever do anything like it again,” said Beaumont, describing the journey as “definitely the longest two-and-a-half months of my life”.
Bouncing his grinning one-year-old in his arms, Beaumont said the world record was “an absolute dream come true”.
A Guinness World Records judge was on hand to present him with his two framed records — he also beat the previous time for the farthest distance cycled in a month — while he was still in the saddle.
Beaumont had held the round-the-world record until 2009 when it was beaten by a New Zealander, leaving Beaumont to conclude he simply had to have the title back.
“I have taken myself beyond anything I have ever done physically and mentally,” he said.
– 3.30 am starts –
Fogg took 80 days to complete his voyage by train, ship and balloon in Jules Verne’s classic 1873 novel, “Around the World in 80 Days”.
Although Beaumont was able to fly over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, he did the rest with his own muscles.
He spent 16 hours a day in the saddle for 76 days to cover the 29,000 kilometres (18,000 miles), getting up at 3.30 am every morning.
The three remaining days were spent on flights.
“I am quite looking forward to not getting up at half-past three every morning,” Beaumont joked as he set out in the dark on the 180-km final stretch in the Loire valley southwest of Paris.
– Childhood dream –
Beaumont set out from Paris on July 2 and crossed Europe, Russia and Mongolia before arriving in Beijing.
From there he flew to Perth in western Australia and crossed the country as well as neighbouring New Zealand before flying on to Anchorage in Alaska.
His trans-American journey ended in Halifax in Canada, where he boarded a flight for Lisbon.
Beaumont said being the fastest man to cycle round the world has been his dream since childhood.
This is “the culmination of me as a 12-year-old boy pedalling across Scotland 22 years ago and going on lots of adventures, going further every time,” he told his followers on Twitter.
– Problems walking – Beaumont set the world record in 2008 when he cycled around the world unsupported in just short of 195 days. That was bettered by New Zealander Andrew Nicholson doing it in 123 days two years ago.
In the meantime Beaumont had taken on other adventures, and was part of a team who tried to break the record for rowing across the Atlantic in 2012, only to capsize after 27 days.
Although his latest escapade has not been so obviously dangerous, spending so long in the saddle has taken its toll. Beaumont told reporters that even walking up airport stairs “really hurt”.
And he predicted that his record may not last forever.
“I’m 6 foot 3 inches (1.9 metres) tall and 90 kilos (14 stone). Someone who is 75 kilos and a ‘proper’ cyclist might do it faster. We shall see,” he said.
“But I’ll always be the first who did it (in under 80 days). No one remembers who was second up Everest.”
Team Nigeria has won nine medals at the ongoing Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. The medals are six gold and three silver.
The star boy of day-5 is Sunday Olowoniyi. The 20-year-old beat Panama’s Loaiza Tamir and South Korea’s Jeong Seong Jun by three games to top the men’s singles division six and win another table tennis gold for Nigeria.
Victoria White set the ball rolling on day-4 of the competition, winning gold in table-tennis. It was an almost flawless performance by the young Nigerian who defeated her opponents from India, Macau and the United Arab Emirates without dropping a game in her division.
Rasaq Muraina and Jeffrey Olu-Imaferami continued the gold rush for Nigeria with excellent displays in badminton, adding to the cycling gold won by Emuwa Chidubem in the 500 meters time trial.
Sikiru Sadiq threw a distance of 6.72 meters to win silver in the 4kg division mo8 shot put event, while the basketball team rounded off proceedings with an exciting 28-23 win over Belgium.
Once again, Moshood Popoola emerged the star of a good team performance scoring 10 points and recording 10 rebounds. The next game is a top of the table clash against Korea.
Team Nigeria started their campaign at the Special Olympics World Games with Tejumoluwa Ogunlela winning silver in division 15 of the 100 metres women’s freestyle.
Adebiyi Olatunji and Adedamola Roberts consolidated to win gold and silver in division 17 of the 100 meters men’s freestyle event.
On day-2, Nigeria crushed South Africa 6-0 in division one of the unified soccer event. Two first half goals from Daniel Osadolo ensured a great start at the Balboa Sports Center.
In the second half, Coach Stephen Adeyomo’s team turned up the heat on their opponents with further goals from Abubakar Adebayo and Eziema Chukwudi, ensuring a comfortable win.
On the same day, Nigeria defeated Canada 33-21 points in Basketball, to advance to the next round. The West African team dominated the first quarter 17-9, but the Canadians fought back in the third to reduce the deficit. The 4th quarter saw another close battle, before Nigeria eventually pulled away late in the game.
With athletes such as Sadiq Sikiru, Chidubem Emuwa, Fatai Fatimoh and Mbum Esther also receiving medals for successful outings in shot put, cycling and standing long jump.
Team Nigeria will be hoping the medal chase continues before the competition ends on August 2, 2015.
The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games opened on July 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The 2015 Games feature competitions in aquatics, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, football (soccer) and many other summer sports involving 6,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the world.
President Goodluck Jonathan has raised the bar of performance in sports ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil as he charged Nigerian Athletes to bring home with 36 medals which must include at least five gold medals.
Also present at the retreat which took place on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja was Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
Others were members of the Federal Executive Council, sports administrators, security chiefs, captains of industries among others.
The president charged the state governors to look into areas of advantage so as to contribute one athlete in their own chosen advantageous area who will be amongst the Team Nigeria 2016 contingent.
Mr Jonathan said: “Every state has some level of comparative advantage in one form of sports or the order and if every state will promise Nigerians that we will give you a medal in this area and another medal in this area that means we are expecting 36 medals.
“Out of these 36 medals, at least five will be gold. I also believe that the private sector will play a key role. We know that in some countries, the private sector plays some key roles in sporting activities and not just trading or manufacturing sporting wares.”
The president further promised his administration’s commitment to ensure that Nigeria becomes the best sporting nation in Africa and among the top four sporting nations in the Commonwealth and ultimately rule the world.
Jonathan said the vision was not only realistic but was also achievable with hard work, greater sense of purpose and dedication.
The purpose of the retreat according to the president was to chart a new course for sports in Nigeria and reclaim the country’s past glory as well as restore happiness and glory to the sporting events.
Mr Jonathan observed that apart from its benefits in bringing joy to Nigerians, especially when the nation’s teams do well, no other sector of national life has a greater force for mobilising and uniting the people around a common purpose than sports.