Caster Semenya, who from nowhere ran the world’s fastest 800m time in 2008 a month or so before winning gold at the world championships, achieved her best effort of 2010 so far at the weekend – 1min 59.90sec in Berlin.
Butana Komphela clearly missed his calling in life – he should have been an airport security guard.
Yesterday the chairman of parliament’s sports portfolio committee warbled on about how he’d go to the airport to accost IAAF president Lamine Diack if he tried to enter South Africa without first apologising for his federation’s handling of Caster Semenya (click here to read Komphela’s comments).
You may recall, from a couple of years ago, Komphela threatening to go to the airport to take away passports from white Springboks if he didn’t like the racial make-up of the team.
To perform both tasks would require him working in both immigration and emigration – which probably proves that he doesn’t really know if he’s coming or going!
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!
If Leonard Chuene is ousted as Athletics SA (ASA) president, the big question is: who will take over from him?
The real question, of course, is who SHOULD take over from him. The name of Banele Sindani, ASA’s former CEO, has been tossed into the ring, but I would suggest he is not fit to take over. Nor is anyone who sits on the ASA board, nor the presidents of the provincial athletics structures. Many of them are Chuene cronies.
ASA needs to be swept clean of the Chuene administration.
I would suggest that some former athletes of high standing – Bruce Fordyce, Matthews Temane, Elana Meyer and Danie Malan are some options – should form a commitee to replace the board on a caretaker basis, while the clubs around the country get together to vote in new provincial leaders who in turn would vote for a new ASA executive.
During this caretaker role, a complete audit of the Chuene regime must be undertaken to examine the veracity of the many accusations that have been levelled against the president and the way he ran his empire.
There was a report in a newspaper this morning claiming that Sindani could become the new president, but I find that hard to believe considering he is not an elected official within ASA structures. He is a consultant to ASA – his salary is kept quiet – and he was employed by Chuene. He and Chuene have fallen out before, but the last I know they were working together. Sindani is not the man to save athletics.
Of course, it’ll be interesting to see what happens at Thursday’s ASA council meeting. Many people are expecting Chuene to get the boot, but given that the majority of council members are his supporters, it’s maybe not a foregone conclusion.
Surprise, surprise! Leonard Chuene is not just going to walk away.
In spite of the fact that almost every person in the country thinks the athletics boss should quit, Chuene has said he’s going to stick it out, claiming he has the support of his board. That doesn’t necessarily mean much because they’re known to be Chuene sycophants.
But the interesting fact here is that Chuene is still enjoying support from his buddy, Butana Komphela. I reckon that’s the real reason why Chuene still has the gall to carry on. Tweedledee and Tweedledum always ride together (and hopefully they’ll go down together).
By the way, do you know that Chuene earns money as a member of the IAAF council? If you remember, he resigned over the IAAF’s decision to test Caster Semenya, but was subsequently instructed by the ASA council to withdraw his resignation so he could carry on his fight there. Council members apparently get around $500 a day while on Council business. And add to that the salary Chuene receives illicitly from ASA, and the man’s on a good wicket.
I have wondered, if both he and Komphela were to lose their jobs, what work they would and could do? I don’t think lecturing ethics at Oxford would be an option.
My humble guess is that they’d team up to work a traffic light together, taking turns to hold the tin. On second thought, maybe not – they’ve both shown an obvious inability to carry the can.
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!
In the past 24 hours, the M&G and Sapa have both released cracker-jack stories exposing Athletics SA officials and Butana Komphela in the Caster Semenya saga. It turns out that ASA president Leonard Chuene and his general manager, Molatelo Malehopo, indeed knew about Semenya’s gender verification test in South Africa before the world championships (click here to read M&G story).
And Sapa reports that Chuene, Malehopo and Butana Komphela, the chairman of Parliament’s sports portfolio committee, had met Semenya on Wednesday night to coach her about what to say when she next addresses a press conference.
It’s time for this triumvirate to be booted out! At the very least, they should be the subjects of a proper investigation, and then booted out (because I have no doubt they have been lying and/or acting unethically).
But if the powers that be in this country fail to act, then we may as well kiss South Africa goodbye as an ethical home. Because failure to act means that nobody cares about the really important issues – truth, integrity and the potentially shattered life of young Caster.
I know that if I had gone through what Semenya is, when I was an insecure 18 year old, I would have been mortified.
In his election campaign, President Jacob Zuma spoke about not tolerating incompetent, corrupt and lazy officials. Now would be a good time for him show that he means what he says.
When I was 18 I visited the US on a holiday in the mid-1980s, and I still remember feeling so ashamed of being South African that occasionally I told people I was English. I know what it feels like to be shamed by one’s nation.
I don’t ever want to feel like that again, but I will should the likes of Chuene and Komphela not be dealt with adequately. I want to be a South African who can say proudly that I live in a democracy where truth is one of the virtues of our society.
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.