Zola Budd is considering legal action to resolve a dispute over her exclusion as this years Comrades Marathon age category winner. Photo: Marilyn Bernard

The manager of veteran runner Zola Budd is considering legal action to resolve a dispute over her exclusion as this year’s Comrades Marathon age category winner – because she did not wear her age category tag.

The decision meant that Budd, 48, did not receive R12 000 prize money for being the first female veteran, but still qualified for a R25 000 prize for overall seventh place in the women’s race and kept her gold medal.

Budd was the oldest top 10 finisher in the women’s race since Maria Bak’s seventh place in 2008.

Her manager, Ray de Vries, said yesterday he was getting legal opinion on the matter because he still had not received any feedback from the Comrades Marathon or KZN Athletics on the issue.

De Vries said he could not divulge too much about the possible court action. He also said Budd would not comment.

Budd, who lives in the US, had been issued with an international number with the age category tag on it. The final instructions stated that the age category was on the race number, De Vries said.

But the race officials said there was a separate number which had to be sewn on to the athlete’s vest.

De Vries said race officials apparently disqualified a number of age group runners after the race on the basis that they were not wearing the age group tags on the front and back of their vests. No formal notice had been given of any such disqualifications from the race results.

“There appears to have been no consistency in the disqualifications, and in many cases runners have not been contacted regarding their status claims.”

He said Budd still had not received any official notice of a disqualification in terms of the rules.

“The story has gone around South Africa and the world. It is highly embarrassing for the race and administration of the sport.”

Comrades Marathon race director Rowyn James said he was in the process of submitting photographic evidence to the chief referee of KZN Athletics to make the ruling that Budd be excluded from the age category final.

He said that Tina Major of Australia, who was placed first in that category, would also be excluded, because she too had not worn the age category tag. James said it was in terms of the rules of the race.

He added that the race results were still provisional.

The Daily News reported on June 19 that an inquiry had been instituted into why four-time Comrades Marathon winner Alan Robb was not placed in the Grand Masters (over 60) category of this year’s race.

KZN Athletics’ technical delegate for the race, Anand Naicker, said data supplied to the athletics body by the CMA revealed that there were three other Grand Master athletes ahead of Robb.

“This matter is receiving attention. Verification processes can take some time and all efforts are being made to ensure a speedy conclusion in this matter.” - The Mercury