Durban - Russian athlete Alexandra Morozova, who came second in the 2017 Comrades Marathon, has taken Athletics SA and the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) to court over the non-payment of her winnings.
Morozova approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court last month, demanding she be paid the R210 000 prize money she earned by coming second in the women’s division.
She said she was denied payment because the Russian Athletics Federation had been suspended over a mass doping scandal.
The federation has been suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) since November 2015, after the World Anti-Doping Agency investigated allegations of widespread doping.
Morozova said in an affidavit she was an amateur athlete and not a member of her country’s athletics federation. “I am not subject to the jurisdiction of the Russian Athletics Federation. I am not subject to any sanctions imposed on the Russian Athletics Federation,” she said.
She passed the mandatory drug tests for the Comrades Marathon and came third the next year. Strangely, she was paid the prize money for her third place 2018 Comrades finish.
The CMA has filed a notice to abide by the court’s decision and posed no objections to paying the Russian athlete for her 2017 race.
However, the ASA said it intended to oppose the application when the court resumes from recess. Spokesperson Sifiso Cele said it would rather not comment as it intended to file its opposing papers next year.
“The matter is sub judice and it would be improper to say anything else at this stage,” Cele said.
Morozova said in June 2018 her lawyer, Mark Leathers of McNaught and Company, approached the CMA to find out when she’d be paid.
The CMA told him it was in no position to make the payment in light of a directive from the ASA. While the prize money does come from the CMA bank accounts, payments still need to be approved by the ASA.
Leathers said as much as the prize money was owed to Morozova, she was “fighting for the money to take care of her sick mother in Russia”.
He said his company and advocates Jean Meiring and Nicolette Beket took on the case pro bono to help Morozova to get what was due to her.
“The strange part of all this is that Alexandra was paid her 2018 winnings after she was placed third in the race this year,” said Leathers.
On September 11, 2018, Morozova received her prize money.
“All rules, regulations and relevant facts of the two cases are identical. Just as there was no basis to hold back the payment to me of the prize money I earned in the 2018 competition, so too there was none as far as the 2017 competition goes,” she said.
The ASA has until early next year to file opposing affidavits.