THE row between the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Athletics South Africa (ASA) president James Evans took another shock turn on Tuesday, barely hours after Sascoc president Gideon Sam said ASA athletes would be barred from the World Student Games in Kazan, Russia, in July.
While Sam said Sascoc stood firm on its sanctions against the athletics contingent — but that they would continue negotiations — the federation’s CEO Tubby Reddy later accused Evans of "double-dipping" into the federation’s cash reserves. This was immediately rebuffed by Evans as "outright lies", after which he threatened legal action.
Claims made by Reddy on Tuesday included that in December Evans instructed ASA’s finance manager not to pay bonuses to staff, but three days later instructed that he himself receive R27,534.32.
Reddy said Evans was receiving a monthly stipend of R20,000 which, he alleged, had not been approved by ASA’s general assembly or its board. Reddy added that Evans, apart from his monthly payments, was also submitting expense claims. "He was double-dipping," he said.
It was when Evans was asked via SMS to respond to these allegations that he called them "outright lies".
The fight over athletics has dragged on since April, when Sascoc suspended the ASA board and put it into administration.
But Evans has received support from the International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body, which told Sascoc to back off. After some ASA delegates met on Saturday, Sascoc suspended the federation, saying it lacked good corporate governance.
Until the suspension is lifted, no athletes will be considered for multi-sport events — the first casualties of which are the more than 20 track and field athletes who Sam was referring to at the team announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
"We have a crisis with the athletes in this team," Sam said after the squad was announced. "We as a board believe we need to be consistent when it comes to the participation of the athletes. Our stance is that we will not be sending an athletics team."
Sam said Sascoc had held a last-minute meeting with University Sports South Africa in Johannesburg before the team was announced, and while Sascoc stood firm on its sanctions against the athletics contingent, it would continue negotiations. It was unclear what University Sports South Africa needed to achieve to change the decision of the Sascoc board.
"If we have to sleep in this building (Olympic House) to resolve this issue, then we will do that, but as it stands, we do not support this ... team. This is all about governance issues, and it’s unfortunate that it touches on the poor athletes."
The provisional 27-member athletics team included Olympic 200m finalist Anaso Jobodwana, who had been challenging both national short sprint records this season, and Akani Simbine, who set a new South African junior 100m mark of 10.19 seconds in December 2012.
"There is a bitter feeling now, and it’s a dark day, but hopefully by our next (Sascoc) council meeting in August this issue will be resolved," he said. "There is no way we can stand for issues of governance being compromised," Sam added.
South Africa will send 93 athletes from 11 sports. Chef de mission Nomsa Mahlangu said the medals goal would be hurt without the track and field contingent.