Athletes will be in contravention of the contracts which protect them from losing funding and support if they testify in front of the ministerial inquiry into the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), the inquiry committee heard on Thursday, on day two of the six-week investigation.
According to Ezera Tshabanu, a senior manager at Sascoc who will lead the SA team as chef de mission to the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in April, athletes were not permitted to speak out against Sascoc, and they would be in breach of their Operation Excellence (Opex) contracts for if they approached the three-member committee led by retired judge Ralph Zulman.
While some athletes had previously spoken out against Sascoc’s implementation of the Opex programme, however, bemoaning the organisation’s refusal to cover certain costs and alleged delays in payments, Tshabangu claimed athletes were not necessarily subjected to sanctions for contravening their contracts.
“We’ve had athletes that have gone to the media and spoken against us saying we haven’t paid on time and they are not happy with X, Y, Z,” she said.
“We haven’t penalised those athletes. We actually take the matter back to the federation because it is a tripartite contract between Sascoc, the athlete and the national federation.”
Asked by committee member Shamima Gaibie whether Sascoc would inform athletes that they could approach the inquiry panel, Tshabangu said the decision would need to be made by the umbrella body’s board.
The inquiry, which was probing governance issues at the national Olympic body, was set to continue on Monday.