IAAF rep fails to pitch, the shows goes on in local athletics

2014-01-26 06:00

The much anticipated visit by International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) executive assistant Cheikh Thiaré has failed to materialise.

His meeting with South Africa’s International Olympic Committee member Sam Ramsamy this week was expected to help solve the impasse at Athletics South Africa (ASA).

City Press learnt from highly placed sources within the sport that Thiaré, who is the director of the IAAF president Lamine Diack’s executive office, did not have a visa to enter the country and it is not yet known when he will arrive.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula this week refused to comment on the shenanigans at ASA, saying his department would wait for a report from the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) once the matter had been resolved.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam and the body’s chief executive, Tubby Reddy, did not respond to City Press’ repeated attempts to get comment.

However, the show goes on for athletes as the domestic programme kicks off on Saturday with the SA Cross Country trials in Pretoria.

The bumper track-and-field programme was approved in November, a few days before the ongoing leadership dispute that split the federation in two, leading to the dissolution of the board under James Evans.

Evans maintains that he and his board, made up of Hendrick Ramaala and Geraldine Pillay, are still in charge of ASA.

This is the second time Thiaré has failed to arrive for a crucial meeting. He was expected here last year but failed to arrive because he was ill.

ASA interim committee chairperson Sello Mokoena said the ad hoc structure has the mandate from the provinces to get the operations going, but Evans insists he is still in charge of ASA – and has so far received backing from the IAAF.

But Mokoena said the IAAF’s visit to South Africa would not be defining for his seven-member board.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with the approval or the non-approval of the interim board. Our mandate is about to be completed as we get the operations going. We’ll have full board elections in April.

“Sascoc and [the department of sport and recreation] came out to say they support us. Hopefully the suspension [of ASA’s membership from Sascoc] will be withdrawn soon. Our main worry is to get our athletes ready for the Commonwealth Games in August. At this stage, we just want the athletes and their coaches to go out and do their best,” Moekoena said.

The most notable change in the calendar is the SA Senior Track and Field Championships, which will happen inland for the first time since 1998.

The two-day championships – taking place in Pretoria on April 11-12 – is among a host of flagship events that have been listed in the ASA’s fixtures.

Thiaré’s expected arrival midweek would have coincided with the latest nasty confrontation between the interim board and their counterparts, led by Evans.

The interim committee recently appointed Boland Athletics chief executive Richard Stander to be in charge of administration at Athletics House in Houghton, Joburg.

Evans attempted to lay charges of trespassing against Stander and the police were called.

The two don’t see eye to eye as Evans has accused Stander of masterminding his ousting.

In a statement titled Non-recognition of coup d’état at ASA, Evans claimed that the interim board had “physically invaded the ASA offices and locked staff out”.

Ironically, Stander was in charge of the office when Sascoc placed ASA under administration following the removal of former president Leonard Chuene and his board in 2009.

Upcoming athletics fixtures February

5/12/26: New Balance Tuks One Hour Challenge – Permit Meeting (Pretoria)

16: Cape Peninsula Marathon (Cape Town)

22: Southern Region Cross Country Championships (Botswana)

6: SA 10km Road Race Championships (Bloemfontein)

21-22: SA Combined Events and Race Walking Championships

23: Maritzburg Marathon (Pietermaritzburg)

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