Kaya Cattouse is a well-known elite Belizean cyclist. But, tonight, she's up in arms with the Cycling Federation of Belize. That's because she is alleging sexual discrimination on the part of the federation and one of its biggest sponsors - BTL.
It all started with a stinging post on Facebook regarding the upcoming Digicell Valentine Tour. Kaya posted, and we quote, "The tours are coming back to our cycling calendar. Way to go CFB! Way to go Digicell! Or at least that's what I would say if I were a MALE ELITE cyclist. Female and Junior category aren't "tour worthy"….I'm starting to wonder now if DIGICELL is partnering with the federation and discriminating against riders based on their age and gender." End quote.
Kaya continued with her angry tirade by threatening to convince her fellow riders to switch to SMART.
But the federation is not taking it lightly. On Monday they sent her this letter explaining that her actions are in breach of the following code of conduct: respect for others, respect for self and respect for the cycling federation. We note that a section of the code of conduct says that the signatory shall refrain from any actions that might bring the federation into disrepute. The letter ended with a stern warning that said, quote, "Failure to cease and desist will result in a fine and suspension."
When we approached Kaya for a comment she was reluctant to speak with us, fearing victimization. Deon Leslie, the president of the Cycling Federation also declined to speak on camera but told us via a telephone conversation that quote, "She can be vocal all she wants, she has the right, but in that same breath you must remember that you are a registered member of this federation and you must respect our constitution and our code of conduct which you signed." They claim that the main reason why the female and junior riders have not been included in this tour is due to a lack of finances and has nothing to do with calculated attack on female and junior riders.
The Cycling Federation also noted that it had issued Kaya previous warnings about her angry posts. The situation has picked up quite a bit of traction on social media. Meanwhile the federation says that it will continue to do what it can to protect its sponsors.
Here is her letter on Facebook:
Kaya C. Cattouse made these comments on her personal fb page: she then received the letter below!! We are living in a country where we are discouraged to speak up!!
1. Digicell Valentine Tour. Sounds nice chu? The tours are coming back to our cycling calendar. Way to go CFB! Way to go Digicell! Or at least that's what I would say if I were a MALE ELITE cyclist. Female and Junior category aren't "tour worthy"...we have to be satisfied with a one day race.
I'm starting to wonder now if DIGICELL is partnering with the federation and discriminating agaisnt riders based on thier age and gender.
Seemingly only males above the age of 18 are recognized digicell customers.
Maybe I need fu dash weh my btl phone!! And convince my fellow female and junior cyclists and all dey pickney weh ah teach fu go smart!
Between CFB and Digicell unno must could make the female and junior have tour to...last year we had a 2 days 3 stages tour....now wi di walk back way to one day. Both female and junior Cross Country are before elite...I can't see the rationale.
#2. Being a female athlete in this country is frustratingly ridiculous...ludicrous.
Everybady always have wah real schupid reason as to y dey do shit that negatively affects the females. And the sad part about it is that people will always SILENTLY stand in solidarity with you and their faces are never seen, voices are never heard but they reap the seeds that you independently sow and after the fact express their "support".
I'll forever be the loud mouth, regardless of who i have to tangle with...my daddy taught me to stand up...and stand up, I will. #BackBone
#3. If funding is the problem...what more would it cost to have Females and Juniors do the 2 Saturday stages? Officials and all are already set for the time trial and criterium.
CFB Threatens to Suspend Kaya Cattouse
Well known cyclist and sports enthusiast Kaya Cattouse has been threatened by Cycling Federation of Belize President Dion Leslie. In a letter sent to Cattouse Tuesday, Leslie accuses her of breaching three areas of the Federation’s code of ethics, namely – respect for others, respect for self and respect for the Federation. Leslie goes on to write that if Cattouse does not cease and desist, she will be fined and suspended.
It’s a very stern letter to one of Belize’s best premier cyclists. So what did Cattouse do to deserve such a sanction? Well, about the only thing we can come up with is that on her personal Facebook page Cattouse criticized B.T.L. and threatened to switch to Smart. In a nutshell, B.T.L. is the title sponsor of the Digicell Valentine Tour scheduled for next weekend. Last year that tour was a two day multi-stage event for all cyclists, but this year it’s different. Female and junior cyclists will have to make do with a one day race while Male Elite cyclists will participate in a four day five stage race.
On her Facebook page Cattouse wrote, “I’m starting to wonder now if DIGICELL is partnering with the federation and discriminating against riders based on their age and gender. Seemingly only males above the age of 18 are recognized digicell customers. Maybe I need fu dash weh my B.T.L. phone!! And convince my fellow female and junior cyclists and all dey pickney weh ah teach fu go smart.” And that, it seems, was that.
Cattouse declined an interview today.