Controversial administrator Richard Stander has been appointed to manage Athletics South Africa’s head office for the third time in six years, after being announced as the national federation’s acting chief executive on Monday.
Stander had twice previously been roped in to assist at the ASA office in Houghton, with the athletics body facing a turbulent period over the last decade, which included bans to three board members, a nine-month suspension handed down by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), a lengthy battle for power between opposing factions of the board, the withdrawal of all corporate sponsorships, and legal battles resulting in mounting debt.
The chief executive of Boland Athletics, Stander was seconded to the ASA office as an assistant administrator under the temporary leadership of Sascoc appointee Ray Mali in 2010.
While he was widely criticised for making late changes to strict qualifying criteria and using outdated systems to calculate points, with prize money allegedly being awarded to the wrong athletes in the domestic track and field season, he was given a vote of confidence by an interim board in 2014 when he was again called upon to manage operations at the office.
“His (latest) appointment follows a decision of members of the ASA board,” the federation’s incumbent president, Aleck Skhosana, said in a statement on Monday.
“We had wanted him to begin his work on April 1, but he had prior commitments that prevented him from doing so.”
Stander replaced Pieter de Jager, who had filled an acting role as office manager for the last couple of years, with De Jager returning to his permanent position as the athletics body’s technical manager.
“We believe that the presence of Richard will stabilise ASA as he is not new at ASA and therefore he is very familiar with the national office. He has been instructed to hit the ground running,” Skhosana said.
The national federation remained without a permanent chief executive or general manager, roles which had been vacant for more than three years.
Stander would take temporary control of the office for four months, according to Skhosana, and a permanent chief executive would be appointed after ASA elections in September.
“It feels good to be back,” Stander said.
“The mandate that has been given to me is to take the sport to a higher level.”