Johannesburg - Athletics South Africa (ASA) board member Andre Gobey apologised to a group of protesting athletes on Saturday for the state of the sport.
Gobey was addressing around 50 people who supported the Legendary Athletes of SA (Lasa) march from Johannesburg Stadium to the ASA office in Houghton.
"As the board we are sorry for what's happened," Gobey said.
He claimed the executive members would resign their posts if necessary to get the embattled federation back on track, but suggested the board could mend its broken ties and put an end to the internal conflict which resulted in the federation's suspension from the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).
"In the end we will step down if need be, but we don't just want to leave athletics in its current state."
The march was supported by a number of high-profile elite athletes, including national 100m record holder Simon Magakwe, world student 10 000m champion Stephen Mokoka, former Commonwealth Games shot put gold medallist Burger Lambrechts and former SA women's high jump record holder Desire du Plessis.
"We are not here to play games," said Lasa president Xolile Yawa, the 1993 Berlin Marathon winner, after handing a memorandum to ASA vice-president Hendrick Ramaala.
"We have come here from different places in South Africa to voice dissatisfaction in the board of ASA.
"We are not happy with the way things have been but we are not here to fight with individuals, we are here to target the system that is not working."
Lasa, which was formed last year to support ailing former athletes but is not an ASA member, demanded in the memorandum that general elections should be called by February next year.
"We uphold the strong view that the board of ASA has failed to execute its mandate of providing ASA with a visionary leadership and has also failed to discharge its primary responsibilities," Lasa said.
"Instead, the ASA board has only succeeded in plunging athletics deep into crisis.
"We believe that because of this the board of ASA has lost all its legitimacy and credibility to lead ASA."
The body said it wanted a response from the ASA executive within 14 days.
Gobey, one of only two board members who arrived to receive the memorandum, admitted the financially embattled federation was struggling to find its feet and was divided by two warring factions.
He hoped the executive members, facing a vote of no confidence at a special general meeting later this month, would be given their full term to prove they were capable of fixing the problems in the sport.
"To just remove the board won't solve the problem," Gobey said.
"We're still going to have the financial problems and we're still going to have two groups in athletics."