Johannesburg - Athletics South Africa (ASA) escaped with a rap on the knuckles for the administrative bungle which resulted in several top athletes forced to cover their apparel sponsors’ logos at the Tuks Stadium leg of the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series last week Thursday.
The Tuks event, which was the best attended in years, was soured somewhat by an unidentified call room official insisting that the athletes block out their sponsors’ logos before racing.
The confusion led to an unhappy meet for the athletes, with Akani Simbine said to having been upset long after his event was over, while the world 100m champion Justin Gatlin was dismayed.
Some of the athletes, like 2015 world 200m bronze medallist and former South African record holder Anaso Jobodwana refused to toe the line and competed with their sponsors’ logos exposed.
Images of the blocked logos went viral on social media after the race.
Nike and Adidas’ global divisions lay official complaints with the international athletics governing body, the IAAF, asking it to investigate what transpired.
Contacted for the latest news on the investigation, ASA president Aleck Skhosana said the matter had been resolved.
“The sponsors got hold of us last week and we attended to the matter by apologising to all parties concerned about the misunderstanding,” he said.
“The IAAF has since written us to understand what happened and they told us if we have challenges with the marketing and advertising rules they can help by providing us with the latest rules.”
Said misunderstanding was that the “overzealous” official had moved to have the apparel sponsors’ logos covered instead of just the names of corporate sponsors as per the IAAF rules.
While the meeting was not televised, the sponsors - who may have footed the bill for the international athletes’ travel to South Africa - were incensed because the mistake was made in the first place.
Bizarrely, fellow sponsor Puma was momentarily accused of being behind the block-out before the ASA owned up to the mistake.
Be that as it may, the best athletics event hosted in the country since the years of the old Engen Series was very nearly drowned out by one official’s bungling because he did not understand the rules.