Mokoka calls for truce

2013-07-18 16:30
Stephen Mokoka (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Long-distance runner Stephen Mokoka hopes Athletics SA (ASA) and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) will mend their rift before athletes are prevented from competing in international championships.

Mokoka returned home from the World Student Games this week with three medals -- the biggest contributor towards the country's record haul at the biennial university multi-sport event in Kazan, Russia.

"I just hope they deal with this so we will be able to run in the Commonwealth Games next year," Mokoka said on Wednesday.

The 27-member athletics contingent, who raked in 11 of the country's 14 medals in Kazan, were nearly left behind after Sascoc suspended ASA on the eve of the Games, preventing their participation.

University Sport SA (USSA) made a bold move by withdrawing its own Sascoc membership to allow the athletes to compete in Kazan, with the intention of dealing with the implications after the Games.

Team SA bagged seven gold, three silver and four bronze to finish eighth in the medals table, improving their previous highest medal count of nine from the 2009 World Student Games in Belgrade.

Had the athletics contingent not taken part, the team would have ended 28th in the table with two gold medals and one silver, achieved in rowing and swimming.

Next month's IAAF World Championships is sanctioned by the global athletics body, and not the International Olympic Committee, so the suspension will not prevent the athletes from taking part.

However, if ASA does not regain its membership to Sascoc, the athletics contingent could be omitted from the national squads for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July next year and the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing the following month.

Mokoka, who won the men's 10 000m final in Kazan, and grabbed individual silver and team gold in the half-marathon, said he would not allow administrative issues to affect his preparation for the Commonwealth Games.

"My main focus is on training, and I'm not aware of all the details of other things," he said.

"I'll let management deal with those issues."

Sascoc had suspended ASA, wrought by financial troubles and infighting between board members, after the athletics body and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) confirmed their support of the ASA board and refused to recognise Sascoc-appointed ASA administrator Zola Majavu.

The Olympic body's president, Gideon Sam, admitted last month that ASA-registered athletes were being affected by the suspension after they were removed from Sascoc's Operation Excellence programme for funding and support.

"There is a bitter feeling now, and it's a dark day," Sam said at the time.

"But hopefully by our next (Sascoc) council meeting in August this issue will be resolved."

However, James Evans, the president of ASA, said on Wednesday the athletics federation could not predict when Sascoc might reinstate its membership, as it had not yet been informed of the suspension.

"We have never received an official notification as a federation that we have been suspended, nor the reasons why," Evans said.

Evans said he had written to Sam last week for clarity, but had not received a response.

"Even suspended we are still a member. We have never been expelled," he said.

"But, as far as we are aware, we have not been formally suspended. We haven't been notified of it."

Read more on:    asa  |  sascoc  |  stephen mokoka  |  johannesburg ­  |  athletics

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