For the first time in a decade, South Africa could have a “voice” in the highest decision-making body in athletics, the IAAF.
That is if Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana is seconded for a seat on the IAAF council when the world athletics governing body holds its elective congress on Thursday.
The IAAF polls will take place in Doha on the eve of the World Championships, which take place in Qatar’s capital city from Friday until October 6.
Skhosana, who is originally from KwaZulu-Natal, is one of 39 candidates who will be chasing the 13 available council spots; 11 other candidates – one of whom must be a woman – will contest the four vice-presidency spots.
“The voice of South Africa is needed to broaden the debate on behalf of the country and the continent,” Skhosana told City Press ahead of the elections.
The incumbent president, Sebastian Coe, will stand for re-election unopposed, paving the way for his second four-year term in office.
Only two Africans have been serving on the IAAF council – Frank Fredericks of Namibia and Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco – and one African, Hamad Kalkaba Malboum of Cameroon, is one of the three vice-presidents.
Skhosana believes it’s time that a bid was made to follow former ASA president Leonard Chuene, who was the last South African to serve on the IAAF council in 2009.
“I was approached as early as last year by southern region countries, as well as some from other parts of Africa and abroad, to stand for election. So we want to go in there to fight some of the scourges, and we are not afraid to say that because it’s our constitutional right,” said Skhosana, specifically referencing the highly publicised legal battle between South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya and the IAAF.
The defending world 800m champion has been barred from competing at the Doha global track and field competition after a Swiss court overturned a temporary ruling that allowed her to compete in international events without taking testosterone-suppressing drugs.
The same court had initially exempted her from an IAAF rule relating to “athletes with differences in sexual development”.
“The Caster matter is a human rights issue,” said Skhosana.
“There is an item on the agenda [at the IAAF elective conference] on human rights. The proposal was brought forward by the Netherlands, Sweden and South Africa.”
It is ironic that the IAAF will elect its first female vice-president at the congress as part of its minimum gender targets to bring parity to athletics governance.
This all comes as Coe’s first term in charge has been dogged by the IAAF’s approval of the new eligibility regulations for female athletes with differences of sexual development for the events from the 400m to the mile, which subsequently kicked Semenya and a few other African athletes out of the competitions.
Skhosana leaves today for Doha. Team SA will depart on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Semenya and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen will receive their upgraded medals from the 2011 edition of the championships.
This comes as a result of the winners in the two events – Russians Mariya Savinova and Mariya Abakumova – being stripped of their titles for doping.
Semenya will move from 800m silver to gold, which will be handed to ASA in Doha, and Viljoen will receive her silver – upgraded from bronze – on October 2.