Cycling SA management heading for a pile-up

An administrative spat is developing at Cycling South Africa on the back of allegations of financial impropriety made against the organisation’s board.

The Mail & Guardian is in possession of a resignation letter from Cycling South Africa’s director of road operations, Hendrik Lemmer, in which he makes several allegations of poor leadership and financial mismanagement against the body’s board.

“I really cannot be part of an organisation where no questions may be asked if millions of rands in cyclists’ money are being lost by poor decisions and management. I don’t agree with this and hereby resign from all positions in cycling with immediate effect,” Lemmer’s letter states.

He accuses Cycling South Africa’s board of gross financial mismanagement and of having no interest in the safety of South African cyclists at its affiliated events.

“It is clear that Cycling South Africa does not have the political will to improve safety aspects of road racing in this country and it is only a matter of time before riders will get killed in races under our jurisdiction.

“I was asked to resign a while ago due to the fact that I dare to criticise the organisation, but I can no longer be silent and see this sport being ruined by a few people at the top,” Lemmer says.

His comments follow allegations of financial impropriety in the relationship between the cycling body and the president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), Gideon Sam, in his role as chairman of Cycling South Africa’s commercial partner, Accelerate.

In response to Lemmer’s resignation the cycling body released a statement thanking him for his service and reminding the public of its commitment to good governance.

“Cycling South Africa prides itself on good corporate governance with principles of sound financial management and discipline in running the sport in the best interest of the riders,” the statement reads.

Cycling South Africa’s woes
It has been followed by a strongly worded email addressed to Cycling South Africa president Greg Till from Carinus Lemmer, the body’s former chief operating officer and Hendrik’s brother. Carinus offers Till and the board the option of resigning before he and Hendrik “uncover them”.

“Do act expeditiously on our offer — you are a smaller version of the assholes at Athletics South Africa, Cricket South Africa and Boxing SA. I suspect Fikile [Mbalula] will fuck you up with the rest of them.”

Carinus further claims that the Tour of South Africa cycling event, which was held for the first time this year, will not take place in 2012 because of a lack of sponsorship and funds, claiming this is symptomatic of Cycling South Africa’s woes.

Till dismissed all the allegations as “senseless fabrication”.

“The Lemmer brothers will have you believe that our management style is something akin to global warming, but I can unconditionally confirm that we are nowhere near bankruptcy.

If you don’t believe me, just come to our offices and I will give you full and unfettered access to our financial records,” Till told the M&G.

Till said it was up to Primedia Sport Group, as Cycling South Africa’s commercial partners for the Tour of South Africa, to find the sponsorships and necessary funds to finance the event.

Till would neither confirm nor deny the possibility of the tour not being hosted next year because of a lack of funds. On the issue of Sam’s dual role as a director of Accelerate and president of Sascoc, Till noted that it was up to Sam to deal with any issues relating to the relationship.

“Mr Sam is a high-profile individual and I would expect him to be able to manage various roles and purported conflict of interest arising from that,” he said.

Sam did not respond to questions.

Primedia Sport Group chief executive Lyndon Barends confirmed sponsorship funds for the Tour of South Africa were at this stage “inadequate” but said it was being addressed.

“We’ve got some sponsors, but I haven’t previously heard of the event not happening at all. We will meet at the end of October with Cycling South Africa to discuss the matter.”

It was previously reported that the Lemmer brothers both believed the Tour of South Africa cycling event was not going to be held due to a lack of funds, whereas it was only Carinus who opined this. Additionally, it was reported that Hendrik Lemmer had accused Cycling South Africa’s board of “looting” the organisation’s coffers, when in fact he’d accused the board of financial mismanagement. We regret the errors incurred in this article and apologise to the parties concerned.

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