The African National Congress Youth League on Thursday welcomed Athletics SA’s (ASA) decision to retain Leonard Chuene as its president.
Spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said in a statement that Chuene had done a lot for the development of sports, particularly the ASA.
He said Chuene’s ”long dedicated service should not be crumbled because of his genuine attempt to protect” 800m world champion Caster Semenya.
”The ANCYL has constantly interacted with ASA and will continue to have interest in the development of sports and athletics, particularly in [the] townships and rural communities,” Shivambu said.
”It is our strong conviction that sports can play an important role in nation building and holistic development of many young people in our country.”
”We therefore believe that those who dedicate their time and efforts to sports development should not be easily abandoned,” Shivambu said.
The Mail & Guardian revealed on Thursday that ASA was experiencing a serious financial crisis and failed to brief the council on the federation’s financial status last week.
It has also come to light that Chuene has allegedly been drawing a salary of R35 000 a month. Board members and the president are elected to their positions and should therefore not earn a salary. They are reimbursed only when they submit receipts for expenses incurred on ASA duty.
A senior athletics boss who spoke to the M&G on condition of anonymity said: ‘Chuene is an employer and an employee and that cannot be Âpossible. The federation is in a financial crisis, which is why they can’t produce audited financial statements.
‘They have a cash flow problem. Yet Chuene illegally draws a salary and [he] travelled with his personal assistant, Humile Bogatsu, to Berlin. She went as assistant manager to Team South Africa.
‘People are focusing on the Caster Semenya saga when the core issue is financial mismanagement by ASA and its president. When you earn a salary you will be under pressure to deliver and that’s happening with Chuene. He has to deliver at all costs. On top of the salary he gets benefits. He earns a salary that he cannot account for,â€ said the official.
ASA responded to the allegations. ‘ASA is not in a financial crisis. ASA is a non-profit organisation and any surplus funds arising shall be used for the benefit of athletics in South Africa. Chuene is not earning a salary. He is receiving an allowance in line with the general corporate governance principles. This is a normal practice in companies and other sport formations.â€
Nedbank, once one of ASA’s biggest sponsors, has withdrawn from its R17-million-a-year deal with the association for the 2010 season. The sponsorship covered the Nedbank City Marathon and Matha Series in Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Mpumalanga.
The financial crisis reports follow hot on the heels of Chuene’s admission, at a press conference last week, that he lied to the nation about not knowing that gender tests were conducted locally on Semenya ahead of the world championships in Berlin last month.
The M&G carried a report last week exposing Chuene’s trail of lies, which forced him to confess.