Johannesburg – The country's athletes are feeling the brunt of ongoing administrative battles at Athletics SA (ASA), according to interim chief Zola Majavu, and the sport's officials will need to work together to find a solution.
“Inevitably the athletes are being affected,” Majavu said on Friday.
“We need to make sure, however, that they are affected as little as possible.”
The Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) confirmed on Friday that South Africa would no longer host the African Junior Athletics Championships later this month.
Lamine Faty, secretary general of the CAA, said the continental body had pulled the country's hosting rights as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) did not recognise the current ASA administration.
“South Africa cannot host the event because the IAAF does not recognise the ASA leadership,” Faty said.
“That is a decision made by the IAAF, and we must follow that.”
This followed the country's withdrawal earlier this year as hosts of the Southern Region Youth Athletics Championships.
South Africa did not send squads to the inaugural African Youth Championships in Nigeria in April, or the Southern Region Senior Championships in Botswana last month.
This was the first time in three years South Africa had not sent athletes to compete in southern region events.
Majavu, however, remained confident a team would be sent to the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, next month.
“We have been working towards that. We are under pressure for time, but we do want to send a team there,” he said.
“Sascoc has indicated it will assist with funding if we can't find a sponsor, as corporates are reluctant to touch us at this stage.
“I have received letters from concerned parents who say they will contribute some of the costs, but that is not the way we want to run this association.”
Meanwhile, despite ASA's regular international programme having taken a knock this season, with no SA teams competing in African track and field competitions, Majavu believed he was making headway in the federation's financial crisis.
Since he was appointed by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in April, the ASA administrator had paid money owed to the federation's employees, the City of Johannesburg, the receiver of revenue, the workmen’s compensation commissioner, the pension fund, staff bonuses, and outstanding prize money for road races.
The IAAF said this week it did not recognise Majavu and would continue to recognise the ASA board.
However, Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy said the Olympic body would uphold its suspensions of ASA president James Evans, who was fighting the decision in court, and the entire ASA board for “serious financial irregularities and autocratic leadership within the organisation”.
“I have offered to step aside, but Sascoc has told me, and rightly so, that if I leave, they need to start again from scratch,” Majavu said.
“Even if I walked away today, whoever replaces me would be dealing with the same issues.”
Majavu said infighting between ASA board members was not helping the sport, and he was not involving himself in the dispute between Sascoc and the IAAF.
“The business of running athletics is not difficult or complicated. Even with the little money they have, they can get by.
“For the sake of the athletes, everyone involved in the sport needs to pull together in one direction.” – Sapa