Sascoc fat cats live large at the Durban July

2013-07-21 14:00

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Olympic body’s bigwigs spend four days at a plush hotel while athletes cry out for funding

South Africa’s Olympic bosses spent thousands of rands of the organisation’s “limited resources” at the recent Durban July.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) claims there are insufficient funds to pay the coaches of top athletes, but the hotel bill alone for their July weekend came to R80 000.

The hotel bill shows that Mishen Reddy, son of Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy, and other guests attended the July at Sascoc’s expense.

Reddy denied Sascoc paid for his or any of his family’s expenses.

However, City Press is in possession of their hotel bill, which was issued to Sascoc.

The amount for Reddy and his son’s accommodation alone was R23 000, of which R7 654 was for food and drinks for the Sascoc CEO.

This hotel bill amounts to more than the annual coaching subsidy paid to the country’s top swimmers.

Financial assistance to the athletes in Sascoc’s Operation Excellence (Opex) programme for coaching was reduced in March and all 10 of the country’s top swimmers have to prepare for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games without coaching subsidies.

Meanwhile, Sascoc and some of its board members have sued sports journalist Graeme Joffe for defamation after he wrote stories about their spending.

All the athletes, parents and coaches who spoke to City Press wanted to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation.

Last year, swimming star Roland Schoeman complained bitterly about Sascoc’s poor support.

The men’s rowing team, who shocked the sporting world when they unexpectedly won gold at last year’s Olympics, also indicated they were struggling financially.

ANC MP Mgolodi Dikgacwi and Professor Alfred Nevhutanda, chairman of the National Lottery Board, also stayed at the luxury Coastlands Hotel in Umhlanga at Sascoc’s expense.

Sascoc President Gideon Sam, several Sascoc board members and Sascoc employees also stayed at the hotel.

Dikgacwi is the ANC whip in the parliamentary sports portfolio committee.

The horse race took place on a Saturday, but Reddy and company relaxed at the hotel for four nights.

However, the hotel bill is possibly only the tip of the iceberg.

City Press’ investigation showed that the weekend of festivities in Durban cost Sascoc thousands of rands more.

The Sascoc board members and their guests watched the race from the luxury Pegasus Lounge at Greyville.

Tickets for this lounge cost R3 195 per person and Reddy confirmed that Sascoc entertained around 65 guests at this venue.

The cost of the Pegasus party alone could have covered the coaching subsidy of several Olympic swimmers for a year.

Reddy said the function was hosted with full knowledge of Sascoc’s executive and fell within the organisation’s guidelines.

A source in the travel industry said Sascoc booked 18 return tickets from Johannesburg to Durban on SAA.

SAA and Fli-Africa, Sascoc’s travel company, would not confirm this but Dikgacwi admitted that Sascoc bought his airline ticket.

However, he said he flew from Cape Town on budget airline Mango.

Another guest at Sascoc’s July weekend, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed Sascoc paid for his Johannesburg-to-Durban flight.

Sam also denied that Sascoc paid for Reddy’s son at the hotel.

“Why would we do this when we know we are being watched closely?” he asked.

He said Dikgacwi was not present as an ANC MP, but as sports portfolio committee member.

Sam also said the July weekend expenses were justified as Sascoc was a shareholder in Phumelela, a horse-racing company.

Winston Rabotapi, DA shadow sports minister, said he would investigate the “shocking” allegations.

» This is an updated version of the story first published in City Press. The comment of Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy was added.

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