Keohane was warned about drug use in 2009

2012-06-04 00:00

MARK Keohane, who resigned suddenly on Friday as spokesperson for the SA Olympic Team, was warned in 2009 that his alleged drug abuse would become public and that his enemies would use it to end his career.

Award-winning rugby writer and sport celebrity Keohane quit hours after he was confronted with allegations that he abused drugs and was a sex pest.

“And that is precisely what happened,” a sport personality who did not want to be named yesterday told Beeld. “His head became too big and he thought he is untouchable.”

Keohane resigned just hours after Rapport and City Press confronted him with allegations that he abuses drugs and is a sex pest.

He also resigned as publishing director of Cape Town-based Highbury Safika Media (HSM) with immediate effect.

Keohane was in charge of 30 magazines and the leading website keo.co.za. More than 700 000 visitors from 220 countries visit the site every year.

Former female employees of Keohane claimed he suffered from “sad, gross cocaine addiction”, used prostitutes and sexually harassed female staff at a publishing company.

On Twitter a member has in the past few weeks attacked Keohane in the most vulgar way and shared his most intimate secrets.

On Friday afternoon, three hours after Media24 Investigations confronted Keohane, he replied and said he had told the CEO of Sascoc, Tubby Reddy, that he was resigning as spokesperson for the Olympic team and that he would not be going to the Olympic Games.

Over the past two years several staff members have approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), claiming they were unfairly dismissed. They claimed they were sexually harassed by Keohane and alleged they had witnessed him using drugs.

Keohane told Media24 Investigations there was an “agenda” against him and that he could not allow “disgruntled and malicious former employees, one of them who was retrenched, to undermine the credibility and integrity of either HSM or Sascoc”.

Female employees have claimed that they were sexually harassed and were victims of his erratic behaviour allegedly brought about by drugs.

Their allegations include:

• During the kick-off game of the Super 14 series in 2010, he sexually harassed an employee and allegedly tried to kiss her. Keohane had said afterwards he had only asked her for a date.

• Keohane wrote off his car in November 2009 after he allegedly went on a two-day cocaine binge. He apparently tried to “change his ways” after the accident, but was back using cocaine a month later.

• One woman said in a statement: “I have been put through hell and back by having to accept the blatant illegal use of drugs. I have had to sit back and allow my female staff to be sexually harassed, which breaks my heart and makes me ashamed as a boss.”

• During SA Breweries’ annual sports awards in 2009 in Johannesburg, Keohane and several other sports writers snorted cocaine before the function. Afterwards they hired three prostitutes for the night.

Another of Keohane’s former employees, who occupied a managerial position, said it was well-known that he was often “totally off his face” as a result of his excessive cocaine use. She claims that she had an emotional breakdown as a result of his erratic behaviour towards her.

Keohane has been a controversial figure since his days as communications manager of the Springbok rugby team under the ill-fated regimes of trainers Harry Viljoen and Rudolph Straeuli.

He resigned after a racial incident involving the Springboks Geo Cronjé and Quinton Davids. He then started keo.co.za and sold it to HSM.

Keohane is widely involved in other business enterprises of HSM, among them managing Springbok flanker Luke Watson, who was brought back from the United Kingdom to the Eastern Cape to captain the Kings.

Since 2008, HSM and Keohane had a contract with Sascoc. They did all the publicity work for Sascoc and South Africa’s Olympic team. The contract is said to be worth R12 million.

Keohane said he had engaged lawyers to deal with the allegations and added: “I have nothing to answer for in relation to the said allegations of former employees.”

Tubby Reddy of Sascoc said the contract was between them and HSM and not with Keohane and that HSM had nominated Keohane as spokesperson.

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