Mustapha Ussif

Ghana’s Sports, Minister Mustapha Ussif has blamed the Cycling Federation for the equipment fiasco at the African Games.

On Sunday, the country’s national champion Michael Naaba withdrew from the cycling competition due to a faulty bicycle.

Shortly after taking off, the tube connected to Naaba’s bike exploded.

With no spare bicycle available to the Ghanaian champion, he was left with no choice than to discontinue the race.

Since the incident, the Sports Ministry and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for the African Games have been heavily criticised.

In a response to these queries, Sports Minister, Mustapha Ussif has said the Ministry and the LOC were not responsible for the African Games mess.

“The Ministry and the Local Organizing Committee requested all the Federations to submit their requirements.

Basketball submitted their list and we went through it with them, and procured all the equipment for them,” the Minister said at Monday’s presser conference at the University of Ghana Sports Stadium.

The Minister pulled no punches, as called out the Cycling Federation for not performing their duty.

“So if you’re the Cycling Federation, and you knew that you needed fibre made bicycles and not aluminium bicycles, it is your responsibility to submit your list to us and will get them. If we can not get all, we will buy,” he said.

Despite the Minister’s claims, Ghanaian cyclists are on record to have said that they competed with their own bikes.

Albert Adoea is one of them.”We paid for our own footwear, the outfits we’re wearing are all old stuff”

“This was tough because of the challenges with logistics. All the bicycles we used are personal bicycles. We bought them with our own monies” she concluded.

Michael Naabu, who withdrew from the competition, also used his old bike at the African Games.

“It’s the same equipment I have been training with. I’ve been training on this highway. Every day after work. Before work too (at dawn). But the issue was the tube. Its the same tube I’ve been using for training and I had to use it for the competition because I had no option” he concluded.

The African Games fiasco, while alarming, is not Ghana’s first cycling scandal at a major tournament.

In March 2018, a Queensland-based local bike owner, Peter Spencer had to start a fundraiser to procure appropriate equipment for Ghana at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

He made the move after noticing that Ghana’s cyclists were using substandard equipment at the Games.

Then deputy director at the National Sports Authority, Robert Sarfo Mensah insisted the Ghanaian contingent had no challenges with equipment.

“Let us ignore the bad press about the team. The cyclists traveled with their cycles from the last edition of the Olympic Games and they are not totally damaged as is being reported.”

However, Mohammed Sahnoon, President of the Cycling Federation, knew better.He, unlike Sarfo-Mensah, a political appointee, felt a sense of duty to his team.

Not blind loyalty to whatever. Or whoever.

He knew the difference between what Ghana’s cyclists were using, and what their opponents would be riding.

He is quoted by to have said: “The bicycles we brought to Australia for the Commonwealth Games are not broken. They may not be up to Australian standards but we brought bicycles.”

The team’s coach was also caught up in Brazil with other engagements.

“We came here with a coach but he is handling some classifications in Brazil. He will join us soon” he stated..