Two events on almost opposite ends of the world – and yet both could have big repercussions on sport in South Africa.
The one was a warning by Fifa, football’s world governing body, telling Iraq’s Olympic Committee to reinstate the national football association board it had dissolved or face suspension.
The similarity with what’s happening at home is frighteningly similar. The SA Olympic Committee, Sascoc, has suspended the board of Athletics SA (ASA) and on Monday finally moved into the federation’s headquarters to take over. Read More…
It’s now just past noon on Wednesday – the deadline given to Leonard Chuene and his Athletics SA board to quit or face criminal charges.
As far as I know, Chuene hasn’t resigned, not that I thought he would.
But let’s see if charges are filed and if there’s any prosecution in the future.
What a great day for South African sport!
Normally we screw the sportsman over and fall over the administrators. This is a Guy Fawkes to remember.
Not that we doubted it, but ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema underlined his stupidity by slamming Nedbank for terminating their contract with Athletics SA a year early.
The reason Nedbank pulled out was because of the controversy hanging over ASA because of their inept handling of the Caster Semenya debacle. Now Malema is vowed to mobilise the masses against Nedbank for their withdrawal.
Had Malema bothered to mobilise one or two of his brain cells, he might have remembered that the Constitution of this great country enshrines various rights, including the right of association. Nedbank are surely free to associate with whomever they wish.
ASA president Leonard Chuene, on the other hand, admitted lying to the nation for his role in the Semenya debacle. The Constitution protects access to information, and I would argue that Chuene contravened the Constitution when he lied, and lied, and lied.
Malema instead decides to make this purely about race. What a fool he is – but we knew that already!
A week after he was praised for handling the Caster Semenya matter “exceptionally well” by Athletics SA, president Leonard Chuene has admitted he lied knowing about her gender verification test. “I now realise that it was an error of judgement and I would like to apologise unconditionally,” he said on Saturday. “As president of ASA I will not, however, apologise for allowing Caster Semenya to run or for protecting her privacy. We fully agree that we could have handled this matter differently.”
Last weekend Chuene’s lackeys at ASA’s general council passed resolutions congratulating him on the way he handled the matter. I quote from some resolutions posted on the ASA website: “The General Council approved of the manner in which the President Mr Leonard Chuene and the management of ASA handled the issue affecting one of its athletes with the IAAF. The General Council endorsed the report presented by the President regarding the events leading to current dispute with the IAAF… Athletics South Africa confirmed its support and confidence in the President Mr Leonard Chuene, that he had handled the matter exceptionally well and advised him to continue defending the athletes.”
How’s that for a bunch of clowns!! Chuene lies to his own general council and they applaud him for it!!!????!!!! These are the lackeys who keep Chuene in power. These are the same people who, last year, passed a resolution calling me “a racist bastard” because I had written stories about Chuene allegedly motivating for an increase for his personal assistant, with whom he was said to be romantically involved, and that he was earning a salary as president (the ASA constitution forbids their president from earning a salary, by the way).
I have seen Chuene lie, and he does it with a straight face. He took me to the Press ombudsman last year for the above-mentioned stories, and he denied that I had phoned him to ask a particular question. Three times I told the ombudsman that I had phoned him to ask him this particular question, and three times he lied, saying I had never called him. And when I produced an audio recording of our conversation, he didn’t even look slightly embarrassed. The man seems to know how to lie with a straight face!!!
The ombudsman recently reached a decision on the matter, but I’ve been told that Chuene is appealing the finding.
I can tell you know that Chuene will never ever voluntarily step down as ASA president. He needs the salary he is alleged to be earning from ASA (I’ve seen documents showing that he made nearly R400,000 in 2003 – during which time he publicly attacked Sam Ramsamy for earning a salary as president of Nocsa).
The man will have to be pushed, and hopefully his lapdogs will finally realise that they do need to act. Surely even they must know that lying dogs should not be left asleep!
Today I received a copy of the 2009 SA athletics annual. As I was paging through, I came across the track and field results from all events last year. Looking at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India in October 2008, I discovered that Caster Semenya won the girl’s 800m in a Games record 2min 04.23sec.
Over the years of covering sport, coaches have said to me that one classic sign of doping is when an athlete’s time improves dramatically. Now, if one looks at the SA top list for SA women in the 800m for last year, you will find the fastest woman was Juanee Cilliers in 2:03.38. Cilliers posted four of the top 10 women’s 800m times in SA last year – her fourth-best was 2:07.44, which means a four-second difference. Lebogang Phalula, the third fastest in the country, had three runs (2:05.61, 2:07.54 and 2:07.700 with a difference of just more than two seconds. Her twin, Dinah Lebo Phalula and SA’s fourth-fastest, clocked 2:05.96, 2:08.29 and 2:08.99 for a range of three seconds.
Do you notice how all their top times are in a narrow bracket?
But then we have Semenya, the second-fastest SA lady in 2008 with 2:04.23. Her next best was 2:08.00 (which she did in Pretoria in May) and then 2:11.98 (at the world junior championships in Poland in July). That’s a difference of nearly eight seconds between her top three races.
I’m not suggesting that Semenya was taking any prohibited substance, but if she does have internal testes and they’re producing testosterone, then perhaps that could explain the sudden improvement in her times. Her times this year again showed a massive improvement – she ran 1:56.72 out of the blue to qualify for Berlin, where she clocked 1:55.45 in the final to win.
Twice the girl has shown substantial improvement, and yet officials thought there was no need to check her out! That’s hard to believe.
I know this sounds politically incorrect, but anyone looking at her has to wonder whether she’s a boy or a girl. In a magazine interview, Caster herself admitted it was a common question for her. She should have been checked out last year already. And given that Athletics SA (ASA) didn’t want to do it, the push could have come from the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), who were responsible for taking Semenya and the SA team to the junior Commonwealth Games.
ASA president Leonard Chuene has argued that there was no time to test her between her qualifying in Mauritius and the start of the World Championships (around two weeks), but quite frankly, someone with a bit of sense should have been asking the right questions last year.
Imagine all the suffering and public humiliation Semenya would have avoided if someone had acted a year ago.
By the way, ASA have called for a commission of inquiry into the Caster Semenya matter.
I will be pleasantly surprised if a commission of inquiry is established, but only if it is chaired by someone with credibility who is not a stooge. Further, why not extend the range of the commission to also look at ASA as a whole, also examining other allegations against president Leonard Chuene (that he motivated for a pay rise for his personal assistant, his alleged mistress)? I know some people who would gladly testify at such a commission.
If Chuene and other ASA leaders (and Sascoc officials) are found to be useless, then let’s have them thrown out. If they’re found to be great administrators, then let’s build a 50-metre tall statue of Chuene outside Rosebank Mall (one of his hangouts) and even consider naming OR Tambo Airport after him.
Athletics is long overdue for a make-over – so if there’s a commission of inquiry, let’s make sure it’s meaningful.
Athletics SA have been called to Parliament’s sports portfolio committee to explain their role in the Caster Semenya fiasco.
Will president Leonard Chuene be grilled to a crisp, as happens to certain witnesses at the Senate hearings they have in Washington DC?
Not a chance! You can bet your house that Mr Chuene, who has perfected the PW Botha finger-wag, will be protected by his good friend Butana Komphela, aka the Perjurer of Parliament, who happens to chair the sports committee. It’s the safest bet anybody could take, and here’s why:
Let’s go back to early last year, when “PW” Chuene got into a row with the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), who wanted to take disciplinary steps against him. Before you could say “gold medal”, Komphela had fired a letter off to Sascoc telling them they couldn’t take any action against Chuene, arguing that Chuene had criticised Sascoc while talking to his committee and therefore had privilege of Parliament. The fact is that Chuene had made comments about Sascoc outside of Parliament too.
Without going into the finer details, that was the background when I wrote some stories in the Sunday Times exposing claims about “PW” Chuene’s administration of ASA. For one, he was accused having an affair with his personal assistant and then motivating for her to get a pay rise; he was also accused of being paid a salary, even though the president of ASA is an elected official and, as decreed by the federation’s constitution, is not supposed to earn a cent.
These were serious claims, but they were never raised by the Perjurer of Parliament, who instead attacked Sascoc and myself. Not once did he question Chuene’s integrity.
At an ASA bash to celebrate the Olympic long jump silver medal won by Khotso Mokoena, Komphela was one of the speakers. Komphela and Chuene are buddies – they’ve openly admitted this.
If there is ever going to be a proper probe of ASA it cannot be led by Komphela – the Perjurer will protect “PW” as best he can.