FORMER minister of sport Anil Roberts has called for the resignation of TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis.
In a video posted to Facebook by the UNC Senator on Wednesday, Roberts demanded Lewis "resign forthwith" for allegedly showing his PNM colours.
Lewis threw his hat in the PNM ring when he filed nomination papers to represent the PNM for Port of Spain South in the August 10 general election. His nomination was not successful and attorney Keith Scotland was eventually chosen to fight the seat.
Roberts said Lewis's position at the TTOC has become untenable as he has shown his bias towards the PNM in his post-budget comments.
Roberts said, "After the worst budget presentation with regard to sport...The word 'sport' was mentioned only three times in three hours and 20 minutes. The allocation for sport is minuscule, it barely covers recurrent expenditure, yet Brian Lewis was silent....
"Your article (in the newspaper) today that sport must use this as an opportunity – when they get shaft, disrespected, no allocation. And trying to concoct and make excuses for PNM disrespect."
Roberts said the National Olympic Committee (NOC) serves as an independent body.
He believes Lewis’s nomination to represent the ruling party taints the TTOC and could affect decision-making.
“You cannot remain in an independent organisation when you have already stated that you are a PNM. You have embarrassed the TTOC and you cannot sit as an independent TTOC president. If people (are) supporters of the UNC can they find a fair shake by you? Can they get fair funding by you? Can they look to you for impartiality? Brian Lewis, resign, you making it a joke now.”
The coach of 2004 Olympic medallist George Bovell III added, “He has chosen a political side, yet remains in a position of independence as TTOC president. The president sits at a table that speaks of arbitration, independence, a tribunal to settle disputes. There must be no apparent bias nor any bias whatsoever.”
Roberts said he always knew Lewis was a PNM but had not made it public before.
He said Lewis never acknowledged the construction and completion of the National Cycling Centre, National Aquatic Centre and National Racquet Centre under the People’s Partnership administration. But he knows why.
He said Lewis never congratulated him “when the anti-doping legislation was passed by this minister; when I increased the funding for sport from $10 million to $130 million; when I increased the coaching education and sporting development officers; when I built 79 grounds across the country, you never said , ‘Well done.’.That’s okay."
Contacted for a response to Roberts, the TTOC president declined comment.
Lewis was not the first sporting personality to get involved in politics in the last general election. Former Red Force coach Mervyn Dillon was initially chosen to contest the Toco/Sangre Grande seat for the PNM but tit eventually chose another candidate.
TT Cricket Board president Azim Bassarath is also heavily involved in politics as a UNC alderman at the Princes Town Regional Corporation.