More blows for Team Oscar

2013-03-10 10:00

The crumbling empire of Oscar Pistorius has also negatively affected his stable mates.

In-Site Athletes Management, the agency that looks after the commercial affairs of the Paralympian accused of murder, revealed they were forced to withdraw SA 400m hurdles champion Cornel Fredericks from a planned tour of Australia.

Fredericks (21) and Pistorius (26), who are also teammates at Tuks Athletics Club, were due to race at the Sydney Track Classic yesterday and the Perth Track Classic a week later.

Their agent, Peet van Zyl, said: “I had to cancel all the races because my guys were going to be under heavy media scrutiny in Australia because of the current situation with Oscar. But we are doing our best to arrange other races overseas.”

The “Blade Runner”, as the Paralympic 400m and 4x400m relay champion is known globally, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after he allegedly shot and killed the model on Valentine’s Day.

The incident stunned the world and left the athletics fraternity puzzled, since Pistorius was regarded as the breaker of barriers between disabled and able-bodied athletes.

Yesterday, Pistorius’ family announced in a statement that they would formally take over all official correspondence with the media.

The family said it was ending its relationship with Vuma Reputation, which has managed their public relations since the athlete was arrested.

“The team’s role was to ensure that respect and sensitivity was shown to all in mourning, to distribute factually correct media statements, and to act as spokespersons for the family.

“The Pistorius family is now in a much stronger position to manage its interactions with the media,” the statement read.

London-based spin doctor Stuart Higgins’ contract with the family has also ended.

On Friday, Pistorius’ legal team applied to the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court to have his bail conditions relaxed.

They argue that Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled Pistorius was not a flight risk, but still asked him to hand in his passport and prohibited him from travelling abroad.

His lawyers say his rights to a free trial will be infringed if he cannot communicate with his neighbours in Silver Woods Estate.

Meanwhile, Steenkamp’s parents are considering whether to take legal action against Pistorius for killing their daughter. This could result in a civil damages claim for the loss of financial support.

Shortly after the announcement in December that he would headline the athletics meetings in Australia, Pistorius said the tour would boost his preparations for the new season.

Now the two events and another four confirmed races – in England, the US, Brazil and Russia – have been scrapped from his 2013 calendar for him to focus on his murder case.

Van Zyl refused to comment when asked how Pistorius’ scandal has affected his company or if his client had a future in the sport.

“I’m not going to say anything about Oscar until after the court case,” he said.

He insisted that the hosting deal with the Gemona municipality, the Italian town that has served as Pistorius’ overseas training base since 2011, was still in place.

“I have a contract with the city for the next five years for the group that trained with Oscar there,” said Van Zyl.

Gemona Mayor Paolo Urbani told City Press in an interview last week the contract with the young athletes was only valid if Oscar came with them.

Van Zyl’s company manages other big-name athletes such as 2009 world 800m champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, former African champ Janet Wienand and 1998 discus champion Frantz Kruger.

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