Ban hurts SA athletes

24 June 2013 - 03:45 By RAMATSIYI MOHOLOA
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The sooner Athletics South Africa's administration soapie is brought to an end, the better for athletes and the country's quest to win more medals at competitions, including the Olympic Games.

This is according to top jumper Khotso Mokoena and 400m ace Louis "LJ" van Zyl after the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee board suspended ASA when the latter went ahead with a special general meeting in Pretoria on Saturday.

That evening Sascoc's board met in Johannesburg, where they decided to suspend ASA with immediate effect.

The suspension, announced by Sascoc president Gideon Sam yesterday, will also see athletes who were on the Operation Excellence (Opex) programme kicked out. Opex is a programme in which Sascoc helps potential medallists with funds for transport, food and competition - locally and abroad.

"This is a major blow for the athletes. We are the ones who are going to be badly affected by the suspension, especially regarding money. They (Sascoc) have now kicked us out of Operation Excellence," said Van Zyl.

"I have planned a training camp in Italy next week for a month to prepare for the World Championships in Russia. It's bad news for the athletes. The problem is that most athletes are either working part-time or not employed at all."

Van Zyl's sentiments were echoed by Mokoena, who is leaving for Europe today.

"It's a terrible shocking news for athletes, especially now that we are busy with final preparations for the World Championships. We will wait and see the direction the whole thing will take. There is no way we will win medals if we do not have support.

"You have to remember most of the athletes do not have personal sponsorship; we are not like the guys in soccer, cricket and rugby. We urge all the people involved to bring the ASA problems to an end. It is us athletes who are going to suffer."

Middle-distance runner Mapaseka Makhanya added: "Some of us had to go to road running because there is no track and field competition. We need Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula to get involved like they are doing in cricket and soccer."

Sascoc said they have suspended ASA under clause 9.3 of their articles of association: "Powers and duties of the board."

"Sascoc has done its utmost to restore order and sanity during the debacle at ASA. [Suspended ASA president] James Evans was impeached by his federation. He suspended seven board members unconstitutionally," said Sam.

"We have engaged with the IAAF verbally, in writing and in a meeting in Lausanne on June 15. It has been evident that the IAAF does not recognise Sascoc as a sports authority in South Africa. The IAAF would rather support ASA, which has no leadership, given the fact that Mr Evans suspended seven board members.

"Using the avenue of support from the IAAF, Mr Evans called a meeting on Saturday which was attended by eight of the 17 regions. He is in the media space [saying] that they are now in order. ASA can continue to engage with the IAAF on the functioning and administration of the sport.

"The membership of ASA as a national federation, under the regulation of Sascoc, is hereby suspended with immediate effect."

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