Another belly-flop from SSA

Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
Should we be surprised at what happened to SA Olympic swimmer, Gerhard Zandberg at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona?

Probably not, as SA swimming (SSA) has a track record.

There has been a public outcry against SSA for the punishment handed out to Zandberg for allegedly changing hotel rooms without permission and criticising team management on social media.

Zandberg was lured into a SSA disciplinary hearing via a WhatsApp message from the team manager that made no mention of a hearing and he was bullied into accepting:

• R50 000 cash fine (later reduced to R5 000)
• 2-year ban from swimming
• 1-year community service for SwimSA
• Immediate scratching from all World Cup events

If only Zandberg was a politician, he could have escaped with a fine the equivalent of 30 days salary, privileges suspended for 15 days and exclusion from parliamentary debates or committee meetings, which he could have slept through.

A former SA swimmer said via email. “It is with the utmost disgust that I read about SSA’s treatment of Gerhard Zandberg. The trouble with these autocrats are that they have never been in the mix with swimmers at grassroots and team level and as such have never felt the highs and lows of these excellent sportsmen, who sacrifice so much of their free time to achieve success. To pull down and break the moral of such a good swimmer is a gross atrocity, especially in a matter as trivial as this.”

I requested a telephone interview with SSA CEO Shaun Adriaanse and team manager in Barcelona, Anton Jordaan, on my radio show.

No surprise, both made themselves unavailable.

Adriaanse added that the “SSA disciplinary procedures include a process for appeal. Therefore as you can understand it is our policy not to comment on any disciplinary in the media as this could be prejudicial to the process and the right to appeal of the member concerned.”

Zandberg is getting legal advice on the matter.

SSA should be in a position of strength due to the success of Chad le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh and the evergreen Roland Schoeman but it’s the swimmers themselves that are now appealing for funding in the media.

After Barcelona, Van der Burgh was quoted as saying: “Maybe for a lot of corporates, they thought we were a flash in the pan, but we’ve proved to them that we can deliver - time and time again - and swimming is a worthy investment. It is now up to the administrators now to put in the hard work and secure the sponsorship.”

It’s been well documented that SSA has been in financial trouble since Telkom withdrew its sponsorship in 2012.

The Sports ministry had to step in with a R2.7 million donation to get the swimmers to the world champs, but that didn’t stop Adriaanse from also going to Barcelona, despite Jordaan being the team manager.  

Allegations of corruption within SSA were serious enough to prompt SSA employee Martie Belotti to resign.

Belotti’s parting words: “I need to protect me and cut all ties with this organisation that is rotten from the top to the bottom.“

These allegations coupled with the loss of a major sponsor, a green pool at the National champs in Port Elizabeth, OPEX cuts, preferential selection of some swimmers and managers and now the Zandberg “disciplinary” - should we just accept that it’s co-incidental without maladministration?

Coaches, swimmers and parents have had enough.

The message is clear.

Get it right SSA or get out!

No surprise either that Sascoc have been so quiet on the Zandberg issue.

SSA president Jace Naidoo is a co-opted Sascoc board member, Sascoc president Gideon Sam and IOC member Sam Ramsamy are honorary life presidents of SSA.

It’s a swim network.

Email Graeme at:

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 869 and streaming worldwide on Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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