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Soweto marathon confusion deepens

The Gauteng government said on Wednesday it will seek clarity about the future of the 2013 Soweto Marathon, following conflicting claims about the cancellation of the race.

Athletics SA (ASA) denied that the event had been cancelled, but the trust tasked with organising it said it was too late to go ahead. Gauteng sport MEC Lebogang Maile Lebogang Maile said he was disappointed that the race had been cancelled, and said he had instructed department officials to meet its former organisers Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) and ASA.

“The Soweto Marathon is South Africa’s only premier standard marathon, an iconic athletic event that takes place in a township,” Maile said in a statement. “Over the years we have seen how this marathon contributed to economic activity and job creation within the Soweto community.”

ASA president James Evans questioned the legitimacy of the Soweto Marathon Trust, which announced on Monday it had been forced to cancel the race as it could not secure funds from the ASA’s broadcast deal with the SABC.

“There is no evidence available to ASA that any grouping calling themselves the Soweto Marathon Trust is a member of any of ASA’s affiliates,” Evans said in a statement. “As such, it cannot, in terms of the rules of the sport, organise an athletics event such as a marathon and therefore cannot cancel one. As things stand, the Soweto Marathon has not been cancelled,” he said.

The Trust, which consists of seven board members from Soweto clubs and two from CGA, took control of this year’s event from CGA and ASA. Evans said ASA would continue to communicate with ‘legitimate’ stakeholders to ensure the race would be held on November 2.

“Any announcements about the future of the race will accordingly come from the federation and not individuals claiming rights to the race, which they do not have,” he said. Trust chairman Sello Khunou said on Monday the ongoing in-fighting within ASA had dissuaded potential sponsors.

Khunou said members of the Trust met Evans last week to negotiate for the broadcast rights fee for the race, but the ASA president declined their request. Evans said the broadcast rights to athletics events in South Africa were owned by ASA and enshrined in its constitution.

“As such, all members are bound by the provision and are aware of it when they join,” Evans said. “None of the other events in South Africa have claimed broadcast rights fees. The broadcast rights fees are used for running the federation and sending teams to international competitions.”

He said ASA could therefore not pay money over to “an unregistered and unaudited group of individuals who were not accountable to the sport”. Former ASA CEO and trust spokesman Banele Sindani was adamant on Wednesday that the race had been cancelled.

“Even if we get money now, we will have to make a serious assessment whether it is still possible or not [to organise the race],” Sindani said.


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