Chuene and ASA get the boot

In a surprise move South Africa’s Olympic governing body, Sascoc, has suspended Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene, the board of ASA and its members ‘with immediate effect pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation and further action” over their handling of the Caster Semenya saga, a notice on the body’s website read on Thursday afternoon.

Sascoc said it is also considering ‘taking appropriate action against the IAAF for its disregard of Semenya’s rights to privacy”, following speculation over her gender.

Semenya won the women’s 800 metre title at the World Championships in Berlin in August, but reports have said that she underwent a gender test before participating in the event. Chuene later admitted to lying about the results of the test.

The Mail & Guardian revealed in October that a report by the doctor of the South African athletics team, Harold Adams, accused Chuene of deliberately politicising and sowing confusion in the Semenya gender test saga.

Adams’s confidential report, leaked to the M&G, suggests that Chuene consulted top-level politicians before deciding, against Adams’s advice, to field Semenya in the World Athletics Championship in Berlin in August.

According to the Sascoc website, a special board meeting of Sascoc was convened to consider a report by the body’s legal and arbitration commission into the handling of the Semenya saga.

The board resolved unanimously to accept the recommendations made by the commission as listed below:

  • Leonard Chuene should be suspended with immediate effect pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation and further action;

  • Kakata Maponyane, Molatelo Malehopo and Phiwe Mlangeni should be suspended with immediate effect pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation and further action;

  • The board of ASA and its members should be suspended with immediate effect pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation and further action;

  • Humile Bogatsu should be suspended with immediate effect pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation and further action; and

  • Sascoc should consider taking appropriate action against IAAF for its disregard of Semenya’s rights to privacy.
Sascoc, however, has made it clear that the suspension of Malehopo, Mlangeni and Bogatsu conform to current labour law practices and that any contemplated suspension is with full pay and appropriate benefits due to their status as employees of ASA. Nothing was said about Chuene.

Further recommendations include:

  • A decision is taken to appoint Sascoc board member Ray Mali as the administrator of ASA;

  • That the administrator, Mali, will convene an urgent meeting of the Council of ASA (excluding the suspended individuals) and elect an interim board of ASA pending the outcome of the disciplinary enquiry; and

  • That the suspended individuals will appear before a disciplinary enquiry to answer charges of bringing ASA, the sport of athletics, Sascoc and sport in general into disrepute.

Corruption

Meanwhile, Sapa reported that ASA has launched an internal investigation into a contract awarded to a company apparently owned by embattled ASA events manager Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane, one of the suspended figures.

ASA general manager Molatelo Malehopo, also suspended, said he would not divulge who had signed the contract on behalf of ASA or when the contract had been awarded.
 
Tsholetsane is believed to own a mobile marketing company that was awarded a R600 000 contract from ASA.

Chuene insisted he knew nothing of the matter when the contract was signed and was “upset” to hear that Tsholetsane’s company had been awarded the contract, which he said was “very wrong”.

A member of ASA senior management, who would not be named, insisted Malehopo, as general manager, would have signed the contract.

A senior athletics official, who would also not be named, said the contract was worth R600 000 and that Tsholetsane had awarded the contract to herself.

“She’s the events and marketing manager,” the official said, “of course she decided who received the contract. And she chose to give it to herself rather than another private company through a public tender.”

Tsholetsane, however, refused to admit whether she owned the mobile marketing company that received the contract.

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