Athletes to bear brunt of Athletics SA suspension

ASA president James Evans. (Gallo)

ASA president James Evans. (Gallo)

He said ASA would struggle to match the contributions made to athletes by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), which has suspended it and removed ASA registered athletes from its Operation Excellence (Opex) programme.

"The only thing that really worries me is the Opex athletes," Evans said. "We're not even sure of the costs of that, or how many people are on the programme, but we'll need to find a way to plug that gap."

Five track and field athletes – sprinter Anaso Jobodwana, Olympic long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena, Olympic high hurdles finalist Lehann Fourie, African women's javelin record holder Sunette Viljoen and Olympic decathlete Willem Coertzen – were in the top tier of the latest Opex list for funding and support, which was released in May.

Three other athletes were in the third tier, and three more were in the Opex special support programme in the build-up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

While the athletes could take a financial knock, Evans believed the Sascoc suspension would give ASA an opportunity to get its house in order.

He hoped it would be able to rejoin Sascoc before the next major championship held under the banner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)—the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, in July 2014.

"This can only be good for us, because it means there is no more interference," Evans said.

"The next IOC event is not until next year, so we have a year to sort out our problems."

Cost coverage
Evans said ASA hoped to send a team to the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, next month. 

This is not an IOC event. While the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) would cover the costs of nine athletes to attend the championships, the financially embattled ASA would have to find the money to pay for the rest of the 33-member team named earlier this month.

"We can't really make the team any smaller. Who do we leave out?" asked Evans.

"We have already selected a small team, as we've said we will only take athletes who can reach the finals of their events."

He confirmed that a team would be sent to the world senior championships in Moscow, Russia, in August, as the IAAF would cover the travel costs of all athletes who met the qualifying criteria.

Sascoc said on Sunday that it was suspending ASA in terms of clause 9.3 of its Articles of Association, after its members ignored sanctions placed on the ASA board.

Board members
Earlier this month, the IAAF confirmed its support for the elected board members, and said it did not recognise Sascoc-appointed ASA administrator Zola Majavu. 

"We have engaged with the IAAF verbally, in writing and via a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on June 15," said Sascoc president Gideon Sam.

"It has been evident that the IAAF does not recognise Sascoc as a sports authority in South Africa. The IAAF would rather support ASA."

He said that while ASA could continue to engage with the IAAF on the functioning and administration of the sport, it was no longer affiliated to Sascoc. – Sapa

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