Budd grateful for ‘prize money’ and legal team

2014-09-26 00:00

THE “prize money” raised for marathon athlete Zola Budd, and a legal team taking on her case pro bono, are encompassing the true spirit of the Comrades Marathon.

So said Budd’s manager Ray de Vries, who has briefed counsel on the case involving the dispute arising from an age category tag that has eliminated Budd (48) from winning the women’s veteran (40-49) category, “as she failed to display the tag on her running vest”.

The Witness earlier reported that De Vries said they are considering legal action against the Comrades Marathon Association and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics.

According to the report, Budd (Pieter­se) finished seventh in this year’s Comrades Marathon women’s race, winning a gold medal and breaking the seven-hour mark.

“I have now briefed an advocate and attorney, who have agreed to take on the case pro bono because they believe so strongly in the merits of the case.”

De Vries said they have tried “every single thing” to resolve the issue, but that yielded no results.

Also, a group of people have raised R12 000, the amount Zola would have won, to give to her so she doesn’t suffer a financial loss. “But although she is very grateful, Zola said she will channel the money to charities. For her it is really not about the money, it is about seeing that the right thing is done,” De Vries said.

He described the “overwhelming support from South Africans and people overseas” as representing everything the Comrades Marathon stands for. “This fight is not just for Zola, it is for all the athletes. People are sick and tired of administrators travelling business class, and athletes in economy class,” he said in reference to the way athletes sometimes get treated.

In earlier reports, race protocol manager Celi Makhoba confirmed Zola was eliminated from the veteran category for not wearing age tags.

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