SA Olympian and 2013 New York Marathon podium finisher Lusapho April, and rising women’s marathon star Mapaseka Makhanya, are among a number of local road runners who endured a bleak festive season due to unpaid prize money from local races.
The prominent races which led to the situation are the Legends Marathon (October 5), the Nelson Mandela Bay City Half Marathon (November 16) and Athletics SA’s own SA Half Marathon Championships (November 15).
The Cape Town Marathon (September 21) also received criticism towards the end of last year after winners waited for nearly three months for their winnings.
Now the athletes’ managers and coaches are up in arms with race organisers over outstanding prize purses.
April confirmed that he is still owed R15?000 for winning the Legends Marathon, while R35?000 from the Nelson Mandela Bay City Half Marathon is due to Makhanya and Elroy Gelant for winning the women’s and men’s categories, respectively.
The Cape Town Marathon race office said it had only received doping results from the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) late last month.
They confirmed to City Press this week that they had just concluded payouts.
The Legends Marathon race office also said it was waiting on drug test results, when athletes enquired about their dues.
It is standard practice at official races both locally and internationally, especially when there is massive prize money at stake, to pay athletes only once the drug test results are made available.
“Our athletes have not been paid and all we want is for the organisers to give us timeframes when they will pay,” said Lungi Bikwani who coached Makhanya to the R35?000 prize at the marathon in Port Elizabeth.
His other charge, Xolisa Tyali, claimed the R12?000 second prize at the Legends event.
Bikwani has received a significant backing on social media, particularly Facebook, where fellow coaches and managers have also vented their anger over the situation.
Cuan Walker, who oversees the professional Maxed Elite road-running team, said: “This money puts food on the tables of athletes and without it they cannot survive.”
Meanwhile, SAIDS said there were staff capacity issues at the doping control laboratory in Bloemfontein.
“But we don’t have control over when race organisers should pay the athletes,” the anti-doping body’s chief executive Khalid Galant told City Press.
“The normal turnaround time is one month but last year, we had long delays of up to four months because the lab had staff capacity issues.
“This was beyond the control of SAIDS and we expect to release outstanding results in the next week or two,” he added.
Galant said it takes about three weeks for the lab to determine the doping results.
In the event of a positive test result, an internal review process is undertaken.
But the aim is to “return the result as soon as possible”.
Ruth Robertson from the Cape Town Marathon office said: “We can confirm that we received our results from SAIDS on December 29, which we had to wait for to make payment.
“Due to the Christmas shutdown we were only able to get the tax clearance from Sars [SA Revenue Service] at the end of last week for the international winners.
“We are pleased to say that complete payment for the event has now taken place.”
However, the same cannot be said about some of the races that do not carry out mandated drug tests.
According to a pamphlet promoting the Nelson Mandela Bay City Half Marathon, “[prize money] transfers will be done immediately via EFT”.
But race organising committee member Mike Mbambani acknowledged that no payments have been made.
“There were clearance issues regarding foreign runners and athletes [prize winners] received SMSes informing them of what was the hold up.”
Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana said some dispute cases had been lodged through his office.
However, he said the athletics governing body is only responsible for providing rules and regulations for events organised by clubs.
“One of the rules is to ensure that foreign athletes produce clearance certificates, that they are in good standing, from their national federations.”
As for the SA Half Marathon Championships, Skhosana said: “ASA is waiting for the drug test results before any prize money is paid.”