Elite South African fencer Juliana Barrett is suing the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the SA Amateur Fencing Association (Saafa) for more than R5 million after she was omitted from the national team for last year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
Legal firm Thomson Wilks Inc revealed on Monday it had served Sascoc and Saafa with a summons for culpable and wrongful failure to enter Barrett into the women’s epee competition at the multisport showpiece.
Barrett, a former African Games champion and multiple African Championships medallist, claimed her inability to compete at the Games would affect her sponsorship to train and study in the United States, where she competed on the collegiate circuit.
She is suing the governing sport bodies for R5.6 million plus interest, the cost of the lawsuit and future relief.
Barrett said Sascoc failed to meet the entry deadline after she had been invited to participate, alleging they had acted in an “unfair, arbitrary, capricious and irrational manner”.
But she did not achieve the required domestic criteria for selection, according to the policy signed between Sascoc and Saafa in May 2015.
Although Barrett met the International Olympic Committee criteria for entry by winning the African qualifying tournament in Algeria last year, Sascoc had closed that window as part of its policy, which prevents athletes in most sports from gaining selection through continental events.
“Continental qualifying policies will not be considered,” the policy stated.
This forced fencers to qualify for the Rio Games based on international rankings.
Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy was unavailable for comment.