Ye did run well; who did hinder you?

2009-11-20 00:00

“THIS is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Churchill’s words can be applied to the quagmire surrounding the future of athletics in South Africa which looks set to involve not only a war of words, but if Athletics South Africa (ASA) board member Simon Dlamini is to be believed, will also become a battle where the only winners are likely to be the law firms.

The much publicised mishandling of the Caster Semenya sex-verification testing has been followed by allegations of mismanagement, athlete abuse and improper financial management.

Sascoc (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee), South Africa’s top sporting body, took the decision to suspend ASA president Leonard Chuene, general manager Molatelo Malehopo, two staff members and the full board, pending disciplinary investigation and possible action, two weeks ago.

With Sascoc’s Ray Mali eventually moving in as administrator of the sport on Monday, the direction for athletics is clouded, to say the least.

Before being escorted from ASA House, Malehopo gave Mali a lawyer’s letter disputing Sascoc’s right to suspend or take over the administration of athletics.

The next five days look set to bring things to a head as both parties flex their muscles. ASA have called a council meeting for tomorrow, at which Chuene and remaining members of the nine-person board are expected to seek support from the 17 provinces.

However, Mali has called the provinces to attend a meeting at Sascoc house tomorrow to hear the Sascoc intentions and to consider the election of an interim board.

“It is up to the provinces to decide where they want to be represented,” said Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy.

“The last thing we want is a breakaway. Our desire is to bring an end to the chaos in South African athletics, so that it can benefit athletes and coaches.”

Four provinces, Eastern Cape, Boland, Western Cape and Free State, gave ASA an ultimatum to provide a full financial report and to resign before noon last Wednesday, and they are now expected to press charges against each incumbent and suspended board member. Clubs in other provinces have called general meetings where presidents or executives have been axed as a result of their support and handling of the situation. Athletics Gauteng North axed their board which included ASA board member and spokesperson Chris Britz. A meeting in Mpumalanga saw the axing of their president, and an announcement following a similar meeting held in North West last night is expected today. Tonight, Central Gauteng holds a meeting where there is wide speculation that Leonard Chuene will be suspended by his home province.

It seems that even if the provinces do attend the ASA meeting tomorrow, there are now the minimum of seven objectors required to launch impeachment proceedings.

Although names have not been provided, Mali has indicated that four or five board members have resigned in the past two weeks. This includes Hendrick Mokganyetsi, who was also the team manager in Berlin and the subject of considerable criticism by the athletes. Mokganyetsi was also on the board as an athlete’s representative, a role that became a direct conflict of interests in Berlin when athletes wanted to complain about the team management.

The women’s team manager, Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane, was employed as ASA event manager prior to her suspension by ASA at the end of October for allegedly awarding a communication contract valued at R600 000 to a Cape-based company where she was one of three partners.

As ASA’s support seems to be crumbling, the provinces are being asked by Sascoc to give consideration to who to elect to a new interim board to work with Mali in restructuring the sport.

This raises several concerns and questions for clubs and athletes, not least in KwaZulu-Natal, where there has been no feedback to the clubs, despite delegates being dispatched to all ASA meetings since the start of the debacle. As with some other provinces, questions are being asked as to what mandate the provincial executive are carrying to these meetings.

This could become a particularly difficult situation in this province when two thirds of the executive are employed by either the departments of Sport and Recreation or Education, both of which have an active interest in athletics.

There has been no information from the provincial offices to counter these reported allegations. Club support for either body is yet to be tested, and this could well see the local executive axed in a similar fashion to Athletics Gauteng North and others.

While it seems that opinion around the country, and certainly from the elite athletes, is in support of Sascoc’s intervention, it has to be borne in mind that the suspended members still have to undergo disciplinary hearings and they are by no means removed from office at present. Furthermore, they will continue to draw salaries, and presumably, in the case of board members, a monthly allowance during their suspension.

This will be important to Chuene, who said that he resigned from the IAAF council in Berlin on principle, and must be feeling the pinch from the loss of the monthly IAAF per diem, making this not only a battle on principle but for survival. However, with many suppliers’ accounts outstanding and athletes claiming not to have received prize money, there must be concern as to how long the coffers will be able to sustain the disciplinary hearings and probable appeals.

Taking an overview, it would seem that many provincial executives, who provide the delegates to the ASA council, have not only been seen to be part of the “unanimous support” of ASA’s actions, but have also failed to report back or seek the counsel of their electorate.

Those who have spoken out have done so out of the meetings, often anonymously, and talked about a reign of terror and intimidation, all of which suggests that Mali has few “good men” from the current council to work with in any interim board.

There is every possibility that the investigations and restructuring, which will also require constitutional review, will spill over into the provincial affairs.

These two considerations make the involvement of current provincial delegates in an interim board less than desirable. Under the mandate given by Sascoc’s general meeting, which has been approved by the Department of Sport, the interim board must be elected from the existing council. It may be a judicious move for provinces to consider mandating their delegates to tomorrow’s meeting to nominate outside the current council members.

This would eliminate further conflict of interest and provide the time for nominees to be identified and campaign for a place on the final board in 2010. Ironically, the itch that initiated what has become a septic wound, will be resolved in Monaco over the next two days at the IAAF council meeting, where Caster Semenya will learn of her future as an athlete with the results of the sex-verification testing.

Caster: The future

 

 

 

AT a KwaZulu-Natal executive meeting held at King’s Park last night it was decided to send four delegates to Johannesburg to represent the province at both the Athletics South Africa (ASA) council meeting and the meeting arranged by Sascoc administrator Ray Mali at Sascoc house.

“This is a national issue, much of the detail of which we have not been privy to,” said KZN Athletics (KZNA) president Aleck Skosana. “We took a decision to send two delegates to each meeting so that we can be fully informed of both viewpoints. We intend providing our clubs and membership with feedback next week once we better understand the issues.”

When questioned about Simon Dlamini’s comments in the media, Skosana said: “Dr Dlamini is quoted in the media as a spokesperson of ASA and does not speak on behalf of KZN Athletics. There should be no misunderstanding. I, as KZNA president, speak for the province and this is the first release that the province has made in relation to the Caster Semanya case or subsequent matters. As a province, we are not aligned to either position. By sending delegates to both meetings we will not be disadvantaged when we report to our electorate next week. At that time we will take guidance.”

Caster: The future

TODAY, Caster Semenya will know the outcome of the sex-verification testing that has threatened her athletics career. The 800-metre World Champion travels to Monaco to attend Sunday night’s gala awards dinner that will mark the end of the athletic season.

While the central focus of the dinner will be the announcement of the male and female Athlete of the Year, there will be considerable attention on the two-day IAAF council meetings, where a decision will be taken over Semenya’s future in the sport.

The assessment by eight medical specialists will have determined if the 18-year-old has an unfair advantage over competitors in a women’s race or not. If the leaked test results relating to dual genitalia are correct, then the committee may advise, for health and competitive reasons, that Semenya undergo surgery before being allowed to compete again.

In the case of sex-verification testing, the IAAF work according to guidelines as there are no clear definitions for the combination of results that determine whether an athlete has an advantage or not. As a result, the probability is extremely high that the outcome will be in Caster’s favour.

Were she to be advised to withdraw from the sport, her legal team would, in all likelihood, take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), where, assuming there are any borderline readings, the ruling could be expected to be overturned, simply by finding eight doctors who feel that she had no unfair advantage.

The reality is that the key to implementing the current sex-verification testing guidelines, relies on the threat of public humiliation were an athlete’s medical condition to be exposed to the public. Since all confidentiality was lost when Semenya’s testing was first leaked to the Australian media and then confirmed by the IAAF at the 800m post-race conference, not only is it unlikely that Caster will be asked to withdraw from the sport, but it is also highly probable that the sex-verification testing guidelines and rules will be reviewed and amended for all future cases.

It can be seen that in these circumstances, the suspended Athletics South Africa president, Leonard Chuene, had genuine grounds for his initial denials on sex-verification testing in order to sustain the athlete’s confidentiality. It was later, when the testing was confirmed by the IAAF, and leaks were published in the media that the handling of the situation went horribly off-track.

Update:

AT a KwaZulu-Natal executive meeting held at King’s Park last night it was decided to send four delegates to Johannesburg to represent the province at both the Athletics South Africa (ASA) council meeting and the meeting arranged by Sascoc administrator Ray Mali at Sascoc house.

“This is a national issue, much of the detail of which we have not been privy to,” said KZN Athletics (KZNA) president Aleck Skosana. “We took a decision to send two delegates to each meeting so that we can be fully informed of both viewpoints. We intend providing our clubs and membership with feedback next week once we better understand the issues.”

When questioned about Simon Dlamini’s comments in the media, Skosana said: “Dr Dlamini is quoted in the media as a spokesperson of ASA and does not speak on behalf of KZN Athletics. There should be no misunderstanding. I, as KZNA president, speak for the province and this is the first release that the province has made in relation to the Caster Semanya case or subsequent matters. As a province, we are not aligned to either position. By sending delegates to both meetings we will not be disadvantaged when we report to our electorate next week. At that time we will take guidance.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.