Unity needed in athletics

Unity needed in athletics

Olympic boss Gideon Sam says the South African athletics fraternity should work together to regain their place in the Olympic movement.


Olympic boss Gideon Sam says the South African athletics fraternity should work together to regain their place in the Olympic movement.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committeee (Sascoc) placed Athletics SA (ASA) under suspension on Sunday.

"It is my wish that everyone stands up and gets involved," Sam said on Monday.

"The athletes, regions and senior people in the sport must come to the party and resolve the federation's problems.

"They must also go to the regions, because I suspect there is not much strength in the regions.

"I can't believe something can go on for this long without the regions getting involved."

The ASA board was suspended by Sascoc in April for the second time in less than four years after the athletics body struggled to shake off ongoing controversies, financial problems and infighting between board members.

Sascoc said at the weekend that it was suspending the entire federation in terms of Clause 9.3 of its Articles of Association, after its members ignored sanctions placed on the ASA board.

The athletics body received support from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which refused to recognise ASA-appointed administrator Zola Majavu.

Sam confirmed that Majavu had been removed from the interim post, and ASA had regained full control of its administrative affairs, but he warned that the federation's suspension would not be lifted until it convinced Sascoc its house was in order.

If enough concerned people involved in athletics put pressure on administrators to clean up their act, he believed ASA could be reinstated as a member of Sascoc within the next couple of months.

"Perhaps it's best that we've stepped back and left it to them to sort this out.

"I'm hoping that by the time the Sascoc council meets again in August, we will be able to accept athletics as a sport again.

"There is no real anger from our side, so if the ASA regions work together to find a solution, take a decision, and tell us they are going this way, or doing this, then we will welcome them back."

Sascoc removed ASA registered athletes from its Operation Excellence (Opex) programme and barred them from competing in major multi-sport championships, including the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

If they wanted to receive funding and support, and represent ASA in International Olympic Committee (IOC) events, Sam said it was in the best interests of the athletes to approach the federation's top brass in an effort to make themselves heard, as they would now suffer under the sanctions.

"I love athletics. It's one of our major federations but we can't continue to compromise with them. They need to sort themselves out," Sam said.

"We must support athletes, and they should not suffer, but maybe this is a good thing. The athletes' commission can now make a noise."

James Evans, the ASA president, said Sascoc had picked a fight with the IAAF, which claimed the Olympic body had taken control of ASA and suspended the board without following costitutional processes.

"It is anticipated that the sooner ASA deals with its own issues, the sooner that the impasse that Sascoc has created with the IAAF can be resolved and our athletes readmitted," Evans said.

(File Photo: Gallo Images)


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