Suspended Athletics SA president Leonard Chuene repeatedly went against the ASA constitution during his time at its head, according to the detailed report of a disciplinary inquiry panel.
“The evidence shows that Mr Chuene played a central and pivotal role in breaking every rule in the ASA book,” the report read.
Chuene, ASA vice-president Kakata Maponyane and board member Simon Dlamini were criticised in the report for bringing athletics in South Africa into disrepute.
The full report, signed by the head of the inquiry panel, advocate Norman Arendse, was released by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) on Thursday.
“The charges are grave, very serious, and are a sad indictment of the administration of athletics in our country during the tenure of the respondents in their respective capacities,” the report read.
Chuene was found guilty on nine charges, while Maponyane and Dlamini were found guilty on four charges each.
“The evidence shows that the respondents neither acted in the national interest or brought any honour or pride to our country as a result of their conduct or rather misconduct.”
Chuene and Maponyane were found to have violated athlete Caster Semenya’s dignity by insisting she run at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in 2009 in the midst of a gender controversy.
The report confirmed that Chuene had changed his mind about withdrawing Semenya from the global championships, based on the advice of SA team doctor Harold Adams, after speaking to “high-powered” politicians in South Africa.
Adams told the inquiry that Chuene had told the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) medical panel, which also suggested she be withdrawn feigning an injury, that they would face the wrath of the South African government if she did not run because it would not hesitate to take the IAAF to the highest court in the world.
The inquiry also suggested that Arnaud Malherbe, a member of the newly elected ASA board, face a disciplinary inquiry.
The IAAF queried Semenya’s gender after a blog written by Malherbe claimed she was born an hermaphrodite and through a series of tests was classified as female, setting into action a chain of events that would make Semenya’s gender an international debate.
Malherbe later denied any knowledge of tests conducted on Semenya and said he deeply regretted writing the blog.
Poor financial status
Chuene was found guilty of numerous charges relating to the federation’s poor financial status.
From a positive bank balance of R500 000 in 2005, by the end of the financial year in 2008 ASA was in the red by more than R7-million.
It was found that Chuene had given a former staff member, Thabile Mogoatjana, R90 000 to keep quiet about an intimate affair he had with his personal assistant, Humile Bogatsu.
As the head of the federation, Chuene also obtained undisclosed loans to the tune of R183 451,72 between 2006 and 2009 which were covered up.
At the time of the disciplinary hearings, which where conducted between November 22 and December 10 last year, he still owed ASA R80 000.
The inquiry confirmed that the former ASA boss bought a Mercedes Benz from ASA for R1 in September 2004 which he did not transfer into his name, and ASA continued to maintain the vehicle and pay the insurance on it.
Chuene, Maponyane and Dlamini were all found guilty of paying Banele Sindani R1,762 682,79 after he was employed by the federation in August 2007, initially as the CEO and then as a consultant, despite reservations from the board due to ASA’s poor financial status.
“There is no record of any substantial work conducted by Mr Sindani,” the report read.
“The decision to employ him was taken in contravention of the resolution of the board relating to the consideration of ASA’s financial status.” The entire ASA executive was suspended by Sascoc in 2009. Chuene, Maponyane and Dlamini were the only board members who did not resign.
They subsequently attempted to file an interdict at the South Gauteng High Court in September last year but it was dismissed in November, and an appeal for arbitration was dismissed by the courts in December.
Arendse said in the report that the suspended trio declined an invitation to attend the disciplinary hearings, which he found “most unfortunate”.
Arendse and his colleagues also suggested that former board members who resigned in 2009 should not be allowed back into the sport without an inquiry.
Chuene, Maponyane and Dlamini were set to be sanctioned by the inquiry panel on Thursday, but the details of the sanctions had yet to be released. – Sapa