Sascoc stirs cyberwar

2012-07-28 20:13

Fuming fans react to Olympics decision

A heated cyberwar has erupted over the decision by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to adhere to a ruling by an international body in a dispute over a place at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The spat comes after Paul Hart, whose name was submitted to Sascoc by the SA Equestrian Federation, was withdrawn at the eleventh hour following a ruling by the Council of Arbitration for Sport this week.

The council was forced to intervene in the matter after South African-born, England-based Alex Peternell challenged Sascoc’s decision to send Hart to occupy the single eventing spot at the Games.

South Africa did not qualify an eventing team and was only afforded one slot for an eventing individual for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Peternell disputed the selection on the basis that he had fulfilled the SA Equestrian Federation’s selection criteria and was ranked higher than Hart.

Peternell, who could not be reached for comment this week, was quoted in online news reports from London saying he was “relieved that this difficult episode is over and delighted to be competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games”.

“This is of course a bittersweet moment because I sympathise with Paul Hart, who was initially chosen to compete on behalf of South Africa.

“I know only too well the heartache of being told you are not going to the Olympics when you fully expected to be there.”

But equestrian games fanatics were not too pleased, directing their fury and displeasure at both Sascoc and Peternell.

Responding to the council ruling on the Sascoc website, Danielle Cox had little sympathy for Peternell.

“This is a disgrace! Alex Peternell needs to have a little grace and accept that Paul was chosen ahead of him.

“So much for the spirit of the Olympics and true sportmanship! Sascoc has some balls! Stick to your decision and let Paul Hart Ride!”

Another fuming fan, Renee Swanepoel, wrote on the same website: “This is a pathetic cop-out. I am disgusted and ashamed of you, Sascoc – Paul and Harry will never have this chance again and you have stolen joy from us all.

“This has been a four-year journey and we have all supported them, helped raise funds and watched them achieve the impossible.
“You have killed our dream and we can never forgive you for this.”

Sascoc chief executive officer Tubby Reddy said the organisation had “followed due process in terms of selection procedure and was guided by the equestrian code’s submission”.

The SA Equestrian Association said in a statement that the selection process for the eventing athlete was initially carried out in accordance with the criteria as interpreted by the national eventing committee and its selectors.

The deadline set out by Sascoc was April 30 2012 and meeting the deadline for final submission was May 28 2012.

“The previous month Alex Peternell declared to the national eventing committee that his horse, AP Uprising, was unfit to compete at the Olympics and consequently Paul Hart was put forward by the selectors to the SA Equestrian Federation as the athlete to represent South Africa at the Games.

“The SA Equestrian Federation in turn submitted Hart as their selected athlete to Sascoc. From that point on, the selected athlete has been under the jurisdiction of Sascoc as part of Team SA.”

Hart did not respond to various messages left for him on Friday, but he is said to be devastated by the decision to recall him.

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