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Tue Nov 25 23:55:25 CAT 2014

Zola Budd questions Comrades Marathon selective treatment

Sapa | 12 June, 2014 11:32
Former 5000m world record-holder Zola Budd training for the Two Oceans Marathon this week.
Image by: RAY DE VRIES

Zola Budd has questioned a decision by Comrades Marathon to disallow her first place in the 40-to-49 ladies veterans category.

Budd, 48, came seventh overall in the ladies category, her manager Ray de Vries said in a statement on Thursday.

"She was also the first lady veteran runner to cross the line, but this has now been disallowed because she did not display her age category tag according to the officials."

This meant she did not qualify for the R12,000 prize money for winning the veterans category.

She, however, still qualified for the R25,000 for her overall seventh place.

De Vries said Budd was issued with an international number which had the age category tag on it, and in the international final instructions, it said the age category was on the race number.

The ladies who were awarded second and third place also had only the age category on their race numbers, exactly the same as Budd, he said.

"The question is, why is Zola being singled out? A mistake has been made and it needs to be rectified."

Budd, who lives in the United States, said: "I won it fair and square. My whole athletics career has been plagued by politics and interference from administrators who are selective and do not apply the rules consistently.

"It feels like they are targeting me specifically. Why does this rule apply to me and not to others?"

Comrades Marathon race director Rowyn James said he was not aware of the two runners behind Budd doing the same thing.

"I don't know about that. That would need to be checked with the KZN [KwaZulu-Natal] Athletics referees," he said.

"She is not disqualified out of the race, she is only excluded from the category prize. If athletes two and three weren't wearing their tags correctly, that is something we will need to investigate."

He said each athlete received a final set of race instructions with their race number.

"The athlete is to wear the age category tags, the cloth tags sewn onto the athlete's vest. That is a rule and requirement of KZN Athletics and Athletics South Africa (ASA)," said James.

This was in line with IAAF rule 141 and ASA rule 11, which stated: "The numerical age category tags must be clearly displayed. An athlete will not be eligible for any prize unless they are wearing an age category tag."

This instruction was on top of page two of the final race instructions and information.

"Every athlete over 40 years of age gets their age printed on their race number as well. It is not approved by the ASA and KZN Athletics as the only age tag available," said James.

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