Zola Budd to take KZN Athletics to court

By admin
25 September 2014

South Africa's famous barefoot athlete was ruled ineligible for her age-category prize in the 2014 Comrades Marathon. She finished first in the 40-to-49 category, and seventh overall.

Zola Budd will file court papers against KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) and the Comrades Marathon after she was ruled ineligible for her age-category prize, her athletics club said on Wednesday.

"Neither Comrades or KZNA have followed procedures, and that's why we have no alternative [but] to go to court," Hooters Club manager Ray de Vries said.

"Without a doubt we will file papers and without a doubt we will fight this to the end. We reserve our right to institute legal action against Comrades and KZNA, and including individuals within those organisations."

De Vries said the referees were mistaken in their decision to rule Budd (48) who finished first in the 40-to-49 category and seventh overall, ineligible on the basis that her age category tag was not displayed.

This was even though it was displayed on her race number, as stated in the Comrades final instructions, and previously decided at a meeting of the technical committee prior to the race.

De Vries said after the marathon, a separate meeting of the committee reversed the decision, however this decision was overturned by KZNA president Sello Mokoena.

De Vries called for Mokoena's resignation, stating that the KZNA president seemed to be acting in isolation, with the Comrades Marathon, which was "dear to all of us", appearing to be in mayhem.

"We are standing up for people who can't be counted, who are sick and tired of athletics being dragged into mayhem," De Vries said.

Mokoena said the decision of Budd not being eligible for the category prizes, as per the rules, had nothing to do with the KZNA technical committee or himself.

"The decision... rested squarely on the shoulders of the chief race referee, who responded directly to the athlete. No one, including myself, can, has or could have interfered with this process," he said.

De Vries said Budd was left with no other option but to approach the courts as KZNA did not respond to numerous letters regarding the decision to rule Budd ineligible for the age-category prize.

Mokoena said Budd received the 2014 Comrades Marathon chief referee's decision on her matter and chose not to appeal against it.

"Further to this, she is not a member of KZN Athletics, or any federation in South Africa," he said.

Budd would have to go through her federation, in this case US Track & Field, to lodge a dispute through a South African dispute resolution and arbitration process

"This is the only route that Hooters Athletics Club, an affiliate of KZN Athletics through which she ran the race, has legally undertaken to abide by the constitutions of KZNA, ASA [Athletics SA] and IAAF [the International Association of Athletics Federations], which do not provide for the judiciary route to solve disputes."

Regarding De Vries' call for his resignation, Mokoena said he had been elected as president in an open, fair and democratic election.

"Athletics in KwaZulu-Natal is in a very healthy space," he said.

'"All operational and functional process of the federation are functioning like clockwork and every year clubs and members of the KZN Athletics family continue to put their trust and confidence in me and my team at the AGM."

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