ASA destroying athletes?

2010-07-19 18:58

Johannesburg - The backlash continued as Athletics South Africa received further criticism on Monday concerning national team selections, as the World Junior Championships kicked off in Moncton, Canada.

The father of Rikenette Steenkamp, one of the most talented athletes in the country in any discipline, said they would consider moving overseas if something was not done to mend the numerous problems facing the embattled federation.

Steenkamp, still only 17, was omitted from the team for the global junior showpiece despite reaching the qualifying standard of sub-14 seconds in the women's 100m hurdles on nine occasions this year, setting a 13.61 season‘s best at the University of Johannesburg in March.

After winning the national senior, junior and schools titles this season, Steenkamp picked up an ankle injury and was advised by medical experts not to compete in the six-week window period during which ASA insisted, midway through the season, athletes would need to set the qualifying standards for all international championships this year.

Theo Koen, brought in by ASA assistant administrator Richard Stander to head the ASA medical commission, which last met in 2007, and Steenkamp's father, Rigard, approached Stander to request the young athlete not be forced to run until she had recovered from injury.

In written response, Rigard was informed by Stander that “doctors or their medical information are not considered in the selection process”.

Steenkamp competed in four events in Europe in July, but with the window period having closed, ASA refused to consider her for the team. Her father has called for ASA to be abolished as a federation, and for a new body to run the sport. Otherwise, he says, he'll seriously consider packing an leaving, with his daughter already having turned down an offer to study in Utah, United States.

“If we start our own SA Athletics body, it can only be successful,” Rigard said. “Otherwise we'll start thinking about the United States and Namibia.”

Shortly after the team was named earlier this month, athletes and coaches were up in arms because of the change in qualifying criteria, with some insisting that they had not been aware they needed to set the standards again during the window period.

An emergency meeting was called on July 4, and while the ASA interim board accepted the reasons given by the selection panel for the changes in criteria, Geraldine Pillay promptly withdrew as team manager. Weeks later Pillay resigned as a member of the interim board, following Western Province Athletics president James Evans and marathon runner Hendrick Ramaala who stepped down earlier this year.

Only six interim board members remain of the nine who were selected to assist in recovering the embattled federation after the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) suspended the ASA board and some employees for their handling of Caster Semenya and financial mismanagement in November last year.

Ray Mali, a SASCOC board member, was appointed as ASA administrator, but while Mali is well versed in cricket administration, he has admitted he knows little about athletics. He therefore requested that Stander, the chief executive of Boland Athletics, be seconded to the ASA head office in Houghton to run the technical side of the federation.

Stander, however, has been accused by officials of having “his own agenda” in campaigning for Harold Adams, the president of Boland Athletics, who has confirmed he wants to take over from suspended ASA president Leonard Chuene who is expected to be sacked.

Adams played a key role in having Chuene suspended for his handling of Semenya, having recommended the athlete be withdrawn from last year's World Athletics Championships in Berlin, where he was the team doctor, after gender tests had been ordered by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Adams later admitted he had spoken out against Chuene in an internal inquiry.

Arnaud Malherbe, acting head of the ASA athletes' commission, has approached Stander on numerous occasions to deal with various issues, including more than R300 000 in prize money having been awarded to the wrong athletes after the domestic track and field season, but Stander refuses to address the issues.

Malherbe says he is in contact with more than 200 South African athletes, and is speaking on their behalf, but Stander insists Malherbe has no platform because “the federation has been suspended“, so the ASA athletes' commission is inactive.

However, apart from Mali making it clear that ASA's suspension had been lifted last November, and that the commissions are indeed active, a suspended federation could not have sent a team to compete in Moncton, and ASA is clearly running the sport despite SASCOC's control.

Koen, who has travelled with a number of national junior and youth athletics teams as the medical doctor for the last 15 years, slammed ASA for not taking better care of young South African athletes, including Steenkamp.

“Rikenette's exclusion from the team is sad,” Koen said. “However, it only addresses the start of the rotten core of very poor medical care.”


  • ian - 2010-07-19 19:27

    Egotistical, bigoted political appointed administrators are going to screw up this countries sproting heritage in total. Frankly, I despair at the action of these oaths. Please, please, please give people who prove their worth the opportunity instead of pushing some quota. Sport is incredibly important to the psychic of this nation. It breaks barriers and we dont mind if the people are white or black. Just put the best up there.

  • I say go!! - 2010-07-19 19:41

    Give your daughter the best possible chance. Go to Utha, she'll get excellent coaching, competion and an education at the same time. Say good bye & good riddence to ASA

  • FRUSTRATED - 2010-07-19 19:58

    All sports in RSA are run by unqualified, ignorant people who are only on the Boards looking after their own political interests. As long as South African sport is run by such people, we will never get anywhere and as long as apartheid in reverse is part of the selectin criteria, we will remain as pathetic as we are. Most people in all managerial positions are only there for the money and not for the sport and the athletes/players they are supposed to represent.

  • Danie - 2010-07-19 20:04

    We are the only country in the world that has this crazy system of qualifying again after the trials (national championships) has been held. We are wondering why athletes rather wish to participate in other sporting codes?? We have to take over ASA by voting the right people in at provincial level and then with these elected people, vote the right people onto the ASA Board - people that love the sport and would do anything to promote it!!...not people that are only at ASA to promote their own agendas!!!

  • robert barrie - 2010-07-19 20:07

    Mali and Cricket SA have not been that succesfull please. With Majola and co they have run it to a virtual standstill. They will bleed everything to death. They have their hidden racial and power agendas that show no respect for performance. Look at every thing they have touched and turned into disaster - they eye rugby and golf and then only jukskei will be left!

  • Gorilla - 2010-07-19 20:14

    At least ASA is consistent in claiming that “doctors or their medical information are not considered in the selection process”. Ask poor Caster Semenya

  • Leeutjie - 2010-07-19 20:16

    If you want to give your daughter a fair chance you have to take her somewhere else. This country will never, never be fair again to a white kid.

  • Rob Rabbit - 2010-07-19 20:29

    Stander is at best a fool. He was a lapdog to the previous administration until he could take the abuse no more? Now he has been put in charge - in charge of his own glorification......That anybody remains on the interim board sadly says more about the individuals than the sport.

  • webb - 2010-07-19 20:31

    Just one of many cases involving jobs for unqualified, ignorant and arrogant "cadres" whose only qualification it would seem is worn out "struggle credentials". These people do not care about the sportsmen and woman under them and are solely in it for personal gain. Perhaps one moron could slip through the appointment process, but when hundreds do the system is rotten to the core in which ability is the furtherest from their pea brains.

  • I say take the best opportunities - 2010-07-19 20:44

    Don't was energy with ASA......give your daughter the best opportunities if it means going overseas do it.....And SA wants to bid for the Olympics????? Germany soccer team is about youth development with the right structures. Will anyone in SA in the decision making positions take the lead for our talented SA youth??? Look at who won the golf on Madiba's bithday - a SA sportsman!!!!

  • taxpayer - 2010-07-19 20:50

    Idiots in control ? Again ? Will we ever become a nation of excellence ? No never !!!

  • Daniel who is sick and tired of all the moaning minnies and racists - 2010-07-19 20:52

    You're missing the point - she has not been omitted because of a quota - - she did not run in the window period that she had to compete in order to be considered. If she did not compete in that period then her parents cannot cry - IF she had competed she would have most probably been considered. She's not that special that she need not abide by the "rules". Tough - next time they will abide by the rules - if they don't want to then move on to some fabulous place where there is no politics in sport and where athletes do exactly what they want to do. Please go with all you other bad mouthers and racists who can only criticise but are too damned lazy to get off your backsides to do anything about your sorry lot in life.

  • @Daniel - 2010-07-19 21:08

    You seem to be missing the point. Her track record suggests she is a special talent. They could've catered for her untimely injury, instead they choose to turn a blind eye. Take your whining and whinging somewhere else. A country with our population should be producing more athletes, fact. All points to bad administration.

  • DC@Daniel - 2010-07-19 21:16

    ASA is supposed to be working in the best interest of the ATHLETES, not itself.What was in this athletes best interest, regardless of their window period. She qualified 9 times, so common sence would tell ASA that she is good enough, or maybe they need to save money for Chuene's legal fees? She is South African, our own, and we cannot see past our noses and look at the bigger picture. So MR DANIEL, can you see the bigger picture, or let me simplify it. lets say you had a son.He qualified 10 times last week for the world champs, but becos of injury, he could not run this week.He is then left out of the team. How would you feel DANIEL. would you still be making these stupid comments against your son. No, you would not, so get of your high horse & go buy a cup of "shut the f*&k up"

  • SmartAlec - 2010-07-19 21:28

    Sports administrators in this country are only interested in lining their own corrupt pockets. They have done nothing to build the youth and relevant structures. Things need to and will change ... but all needs to be destroyed first.

  • sias - 2010-07-19 21:42

    ASA. Administration Sunk Athletics

  • Chip - 2010-07-19 22:25

    Can these fr*ging clowns get their road act out the way. Why is Mali a cricket expert running the show....with his side puppet ! SA like all its public enterprises are run by inexperienced people & simple solution get some who has a CLUE and BEST INTEREST AT HEART !

  • Cassandra - 2010-07-20 07:31

    TAKE the offer to go and study in the US - don't waste your time with these clowns - she'll get much better training and opportunities overseas

  • MDK - 2010-07-20 08:00

    Wait wait wait.... let's host the OLYMPICS!!!!!!

  • stiaan - 2010-07-20 08:05

    nou vra hulle hoekom kan ons nie meer sulke groot skares lok na byeenkomste nie. Dis mense wat aan die stuur sit wat seker nog nooit eers hardloop skoene aangehad het nie wat net daar si om hulle sakke vol te stop met geld. kinders stel net nie meer belang om deel te neem aan atletiek nie. hulle sal net interskole doen dan begin die rugby/netbal. Daar is soveel talent daar buite maar met geen hulp van die "base" in atletiek sal atletiek/landloop nooit weer die selfde wees as sorry die "apartheids" jare

  • SKOLLIE - 2010-07-20 08:13

    All three my kids were WP title holders in athletics, they broke various records, as well as a SA Record, we supported them on each and every event in which they participated, but due to many years of extreme rascism in ASA, double standards for "the previously disadvantaged", they lost complete interest in athletics, feeling that ASA could offer them no future. Many other parents and their children experienced the very same, instead of building bridges between the different cultures, the top structures in ASA broke it down. And instead of breaking down the differences between the cultural groups, my kids as small as they were, coming from a family where there were no color barriers, where they were taught to respect all living beings, instead they became rascists themselves, thanks to ASA. wanting to know from me as a parent, how they could have respect for people who had no respect for their culture, many times threatening them. Unfortunately many other outstanding world class athletes of this era experienced the same and are lost to South Africa Athletics forever. The poor performance of South African Athletes at International Events is a clearcut testimony and result of these actions of ASA.

  • reynard - 2010-07-20 08:13

    But yes - lets let men race in the womans team. Class all round! pathetic. Watch another Kevin Peterson rise to dominate for another nation.

  • bob - 2010-07-20 09:26

    HI Daniel wont you please take you racist foot out of your mouth and JSTFU, bigotry is RACISM you sound like a bigot!!! ASA are a real proud bunch of people to stick up for. If you actually knew athletics in SA you would know that people of colour who have worse times qualifying times than allot of other athlete's and are geting picked to compete well then hello do you remember the Beijing Olympics, how many medals did we get there son in track and filed...Do some research and actually see why everyone is getting upset with ASA and SASSCOC.....

  • lew - 2010-07-20 09:49

    As with all our sports, quota's are alive and well.Racists are in charge and so we will continue to drop in terms of world standards. Water Polo also suffered at the hands of these Buffoons.

  • nev - 2010-07-20 11:30

    not sure about this ASA. we should be behind our people and encouraging them in every way we can. we're now doing exactly what we shouldnt be doing and the fact that ASA, its "elite and sophistaicated" management cannot see this is beyond comprehension

  • Brendan - 2010-07-20 11:33

    I recommend leave. I'm moving my family to Canada tired of being screwed around in SA

  • NOT BEE - 2010-07-20 15:42

    Another example of the (in)direct consequence of the BEE mentality [sic]? The "new" plaque that has struck South Africa since the Thabo Mbeki era of 1998 - 2008 has destroyed the notions of deservance, hard work, dedication, integrity, honour and self-respect but rather it has embraced racism, xenophobia, arrogance, incompetence, nepotism, corruption and self-entitlement. Winning rainbow nation? Only possible if we abolish all forms of racial discrimation. both so-called "fair" or unfair. Nelson's dream, Desmond's wish, Mbeki's mess - Zuma's chance of leading a visionary legacy?

  • Johnnie B - 2010-07-20 17:25

    ASA members should also qualify. How many of these obesities can run 100m in less than 20 seconds.

  • @Daniel - 2010-07-20 19:24

    Daniel, did you read the article? Do you know that only 5 athletes actually (re)qualified in the window period. Why did you bring race into this. DId you forget that she is female? If you do want to speak up, complain about the poor number of black athletes and specifically black females in the team. You see my friend it is not about race. It is about passing maths. They tell you you need 50% to pass. Then you receive your certificate and it says you needed 80% to pass ... again ... Eishhh ...

  • Richard Stander - 2010-07-20 19:30

    Adams, Stander & Associates. Look ma ... we can destoy another child's life ...

  • Stander leave our children alone - 2010-07-20 19:33

    Stander leave our children alone. How many more lives do you want to destroy?

  • Tannie - 2010-07-20 21:53

    Go SKOLLIE!!!

  • GinaS - 2010-07-21 10:01

    Is about time SA sports officials stopped with the race card, I think some of these officials think that they will keep their jobs longer by including inferior players. We have always said all sports should be choosen on merit and not on colour. Our sports in South Africa will never survive because of quota's, look at the USA Athletes most of them are of colour and no one complains, because they are the best athletes USA has. Our soccer team has proved it, we have many good soccer players amongst coloured and white but they do not get a chance.

  • Tim - 2010-07-21 11:02

    What I dont understand is how SA was banned during apartheid because of political inteference in sport, but now with even more interference nothing gets said or done. SA is fast becoming another failed African country. I would take my daughter and head overseas! What happens at ASA happens everyday in telkom, eskom, transnet etc. Oh and Daniel you are an idiot, read the article and try use that thing attached to your body (head).

  • AL - 2010-07-21 12:34

    Just leave - and when you win a gold medal in the olympics for another country, thank ASA for letting you do so because there is no way that you will anything in this f***ing zoo.

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