Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
24 Aug 2013
8:00 am

Ramsamy to get his hands dirty

Wesley Botton

While the athletes will no longer suffer due to administrative battles, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam says Athletics South Africa (ASA) will remain suspended for the foreseeable future.

FILE PIC. Gideon Sam during the SASCOC press briefing at Olympic House in Houghton on May 22, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images)

Sam confirmed yesterday that International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lamine Diack had agreed for Sam Ramsamy, the International Olympic Committee representative on Sascoc’s board, and Cheikh Thiare, Diack’s executive assistant, to work together in an attempt to get to the bottom of the clash between Sascoc and ASA.

“The IAAF president said he had confidence in Sam Ramsamy and believed he could help us, so he told us to run with it,” Sam said. “We were hoping to welcome back ASA at our AGM next week, but this process has not yet happened, and I cannot see it happening in the next week.”

Sascoc removed elite track and field athletes from its Operation Excellence (Opex) programme for funding and support when ASA was suspended in July, but Sam said they had been swayed by the plight of javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, and the athletes were reincluded earlier this month.

“We got a plea from someone on behalf of Sunette, saying she was training hard but she was battling. “We decided we could sort out the administration in due course, but we need to work with the athletes,” he added.

And though ASA is still excluded from the Olympic movement, Sam is confident the suspension will be lifted in time for SA athletes to compete at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“We can’t fight forever. We need to work together, and I am certain this situation will be sorted out,” he said. “If it’s not sorted out by the Commonwealth Games we have a big problem. We’ll have it sorted out by then.”

The SA team bagged only one bronze medal at this month’s World Athletics Championships in Moscow the country’s worst performance at the biennial showpiece in six years but Sam said there were enough positives to give faith in the future of the sport.

“If you look at the results from Moscow there are a lot of positives going forward,” he said. “Our high performance team analysed the performances, and we have about five athletes who can get gold or silver at the Commonwealth Games.”

James Evans, the president of ASA, said the athletics body had not yet been contacted by Ramsamy, and had still not been officially informed of its suspension from Sascoc, but he would not comment further.

Ramsamy’s office said he was unavailable for comment.