Zandberg in deep end with SSA

Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
SA swimming star Gerhard Zandberg was handed a R50 000 cash fine and a year's community service – you’d think we had a criminal on our hands.

Instead, it’s just another SA sportsperson feeling the brunt of a bully administration who have little regard for due process.

SA Olympic swimmer, Zandberg is a “broken man” after being severely punished for breaking team rules during the FINA World Championships in Barcelona.
The story broke that Zandberg had been hauled before a Swim SA (SSA) disciplinary hearing because he had switched hotel rooms to be with his girlfriend.

But according to a couple of sources, Zandberg had asked a number of SSA officials six days before his race if he could please move as his “roomie”, Cameron van der Burgh had a head cold (which was reported in the media) and he was battling to sleep.

Four days after his request, SSA had not come back to him.

So, two days before his race (last Thursday) and not being able to sleep, he had little choice but to move to his own room, which he paid for himself.

His girlfriend, Linda, joined him in the room.

When SSA management got wind of the move, Zandberg received a WhatsApp message from the team manager at around 22:30 on the Friday night, asking him to meet with him to discuss some issues.

Zandberg didn’t respond to the message in time and the meeting was re-scheduled for after lunch on the Saturday after his heat.

Once again, no mention of a disciplinary hearing.

The disciplinary proceedings finished at 16:30 (30 minutes before he had to leave for the pool to swim the semi-finals).

SSA claimed it was his second breach after criticizing team management on social media earlier in the week.
The combined punishment for the swimmer:

1. R50 000 cash fine (later reduced to R5 000)
2. 2-year ban from swimming
3. 1-year community service for SwimSA                                                                                                                     
4. Immediate scratching from all World Cup events

Zandberg already does a lot for charity and the community along with his coaching, “Learn to Swim”.

How can it be so harsh and were the rights of the swimmer compromised? 

For the record, Zandberg, who also didn’t receive SA team kit, slipped at the start of his semi and failed to make the final.

He didn’t make any excuses for missing out but can you imagine what was weighing on his mind.

I emailed SSA CEO, Shaun Adriaanse asking him for some clarification on the following:

Who did the disciplinary panel consist of, is the punishment in line with the SSA constitution and is the SSA constitution signed?

No response from the CEO.

There has been growing speculation that the SSA constitution is not signed as it does not comply with FINA requirements.

It is also the second time within a week that Adriaanse had failed to respond to an email of mine.

Earlier, I had asked him if SSA had paid for any journalist to attend any championship/event in the last five years?

No response.

It has become a trend for bigger sporting codes to pay for journalists to attend events and I am still of the opinion, it is difficult for some to write objectively and “spill the beans” when they are being wined and dined by officials.

SSA is also forever crying poverty but that didn’t stop the CEO from going to Barcelona.

What role did Adriaanse serve when there was already a team manager?

SSA is always looking for handouts but it’s time they took a good look at themselves and ask why Telkom withdrew their sponsorship.

R2.7 million was given to SSA by the sports ministry for the world champs. Why then did Zandberg have to pay his own way?

Although, SSA have promised to reimburse his flights.

Swimmers had to contribute R3 000 each for the last World Championships in Shanghai (in 2011) and when some questioned why they had to contribute for a fully funded tour, they were told “to be grateful that the rest of the funding was supplied by the federation and not to ask any questions, just be grateful that it wasn't more.”

Meanwhile, the disabled swimmers questioning whether or not, they are getting a fair deal as they head for their championships in Montreal. The able bodied swimmers spent almost two weeks in Europe to acclimatise whilst the disabled swimmers leave on August 7 with a layover in the London for 11 hours then fly to Montreal.

Three days later, some have to swim at the World Champs in their main events.

As one high performance coach put it: “There is almost no time difference between SA and Spain, whereas for the disabled swimmers, it’s almost seven hours. One needs at least a day for every hour to acclimatise and SSA knows this. I tell you it’s discrimination and they can say what they want.”

There has been strong support for Zandberg on twitter:

Former SA swimmer, Kathryn Meaklim tweeted: @ZandbergGerhard it's things like this that make a person glad to have stopped swimming & stay that way. Outrage! Keep ur head high captain.

Media analyst, Lance Rothschild: Fire SwimSA CEO Shaun Adriaanse. Put the athletes first.

Don’t hold your breath.

Sadly, SSA is well protected as the president of SSA, Jace Naidoo is also a Sascoc board member...

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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