Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
30 Nov 2013
11:00 am

Athletics left in the blocks of turmoil

Wesley Botton

Looking back on 2013, it's a pity my memory of the athletics season is centred more on boardroom clashes and sanctions than notable sporting performances.

Wesley Botton.

Johan Cronje made a massive breakthrough in the flagship 1 500m event, Willem Coertzen improved his own national decathlon record, Anaso Jobodwana continued his charge through the global sprint rankings and Lusapho April finished on the podium in the world’s most prestigious major city marathon.

But in-fighting and political battles stole the headlines again with administrative concerns sapping much of the focus throughout the season.

This month marks four years since Sascoc first intervened in ASA’s affairs, and while the federation seemed to have hit rock bottom after three board members were banned in February 2011, the sport has now reached an all-time low.

The build-up to today’s AGM spun out of control this week, with a split in allegiances tearing the sport further asunder.

One side went over the board’s heads and called an SGM, and the other side refused to recognise the legitimacy of the meeting.

Relationships between the executive, who were scheduled to meet last night for the first time in eight months, continued to crumble with some members resigning after the boards of five provinces were suspended.

The ongoing conflict attracted attention from Sascoc and the IAAF earlier in the year, but while both bodies got involved and apparently agreed to get to the bottom of the issue, they have seemingly left ASA to clean up its own mess.

Cronje, Coertzen, Jobodwana and April were superb this season, but their efforts will forever be overshadowed by a bizarre battle for control of an embattled, financially troubled organisation.

The athletics body is without a corporate sponsor and remains suspended from the Olympic movement as it continues a lengthy struggle to find its feet.

The problems have reverberated throughout the organisation, with certain provinces locked in their own internal battles, and Sascoc has called for the regions to be stabilised before it will consider lifting the federation’s suspension.

Hopefully by this time next year the focus on the sport will revolve around the athletes, rather than administrators and officials.

It will be disappointing if our track and field stars are frustrated by sanctions from international competition when they should be celebrating medals at the Commonwealth Games.