The saga surrounding the statuette of Russian Comrades champion Leonid Shvetsov for his record-breaking run last year is not over.
According to Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) general manager Gary Boshoff, the matter has been referred for arbitration.
Shvetsov instituted legal proceedings against the CMA because he says he did not receive his 100-ounce gold statuette.
The CMA, in turn, instituted legal proceedings against Harmony, the sponsor of last year’s gold medals and statuettes. “We are doing all we can to assist the athlete [Shvetsov]. We don’t want to alienate our Comrades record-holder,” said Boshoff.
Despite being very unhappy about the course of events, Shvetsov, a medical doctor, has entered for this year’s June 15 race between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
He won last year’s race in the opposite direction in impressive style in five hours 20 minutes and 49 seconds, thereby erasing Bruce Fordyce’s 21-year-old record from the record books.
The Harmony Club, in whose colours Shvetsov took part, offered its athletes an additional incentive of R500 000 for a win and a further R500 000 for a new record.
Nick Bester, former manager of Harmony Club, said earlier this money was paid to the Russian. However, the club had nothing to do with the agreement between the CMA and the Harmony Group, said Bester.
A spokesman for the Harmony Group told Beeld a few weeks ago that the statuette intended for Shvetsov had already been melted down and a new one would be made as soon as possible.
Boshoff said that until late last year, when it received a complaint from Shvetsov’s agent, the CMA had been under the impression that Shvetsov had, in fact, received his statuette or its monetary equivalent (about R500 000 at the time of last year’s Comrades, but now considerably more since the increase in the gold price).
“On inquiry Harmony confirmed to me in writing that the monetary value of the statuette had been paid to Shvetsov.
“We have now asked Harmony for proof of that payment. Shvetsov has asked for the cash rather than the statuette.”
Harmony could not be reached for comment.