Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
16 Nov 2013
7:00 am

SA athletes marching to break their silence

Wesley Botton

It might mean little in the greater scheme of things, but today's march to Athletics South Africa's offices in Houghton will give the first real indication of where the athletes stand in the shambles that has become of the national federation.

Wesley Botton.

While administrators have been at each other’s throats in a bizarre public battle for leadership of a financially crippled organisation, the athletes have said little, choosing to retain their focus on the road, field and track.

They can’t be blamed of course, for avoiding the long-running controversy and conflict that have become synonymous with ASA.

It’s not the responsibility of athletes to concern themselves with executive matters, and by turning a blind eye, they have managed to keep the national flag flying despite the federation’s suspension from the Olympic movement, threatening their participation at next year’s Commonwealth Games.

Today’s march from Johannesburg Stadium, organised by the Legendary Athletes of South Africa (Lasa), will not have any real impact on the ASA board members, who can only be removed in line with the constitution. Though Lasa is recognised by ASA, it is not a member and holds no voting power.

The protest will nonetheless give current and former athletes an opportunity to stand in unison for the first time and make themselves heard.

James Evans says he is unlikely to be at ASA House to accept the list of grievances due to travel costs from his home in Cape Town, but will almost certainly ensure there is someone there.

The federation simply cannot afford the backlash if it snubs a call from athletes.

Evans has stubbornly clung on as president and his board is facing yet another call for a vote of no confidence at a special general meeting later this month.

He and vice-president Hendrick Ramaala are adamant that ASA is back on track and the financial situation is improving, but they are still facing hefty legal bills, have no access to their bank account, and staff are apparently unlikely to be paid, once again, at the end of this month.

Sascoc and the IAAF have not yet made inroads into their investigation of the sport’s administration, and the embattled national body remains in limbo.

The definitive split in the executive has caused so much damage it will take a long time for ASA to find its feet, and the process cannot start until the problems within the board are fixed.

It’s crucial, therefore, for the athletes to speak out before the SGM at the end of the month.

It could be the only way to ensure Sascoc and the IAAF crack down if the embattled board cannot find a way forward and continue to cling to their posts.