Ref explains Du Toit decision

2012-04-18 11:18

Durban - The official who disqualified amputee swimmer Natalie du Toit from the women's 5km open water race at the national championships in Durban at the weekend, has clarified his decision to penalise the Paralympic star.

Du Toit was stripped of her title for "unsporting behaviour" after she was deemed by referee Peter Pienaar to have blocked the path of fellow competitor Michelle Weber in a tight finish at Inanda Dam.

The 28-year-old effectively swam her rival out of space in the final sprint for the touch pad, though she insisted it was perfectly within the laws of open water swimming to do what she did.

Pienaar, however, felt otherwise and explained that the swimmer had contravened the rules.

"I deemed it as unsporting conduct in terms of Fina rule 6.3.2," said the Swimming SA (SSA) referee.

"To me it was a sporting incident and what I construed as unsporting conduct.

"I made the call on what I saw, so it's now over." Rule 6.3.2 states, "if in the opinion of a Referee, an action of a swimmer or an escort safety craft, or a swimmer's approved representative is deemed to be 'unsporting' the referee shall disqualify the swimmer concerned immediately".

Du Toit reportedly appealed the decision, but the appeal had been turned down.

"As far as I was concerned, I saw an infraction and I called it immediately," Pienaar said.

"I radioed in straight away to the officials not on the water to call the infraction.

"I also stated that there was probably going to be a protest, but I called it anyway."

Weber was on Du Toit's right as the two raced towards the finish and the multiple Paralympic gold medallist, who competed in the women's 10km event at the 2008 beijing Olympics, said her opponent could have taken evasive action once she knew the touch pad was so close.

"For me it's clearly personal," said an upset Du Toit.

"I mean, the Olympics were won in that way.

"There were no ropes or anything, so she could have at any time gone onto my left-hand side.

"It's open water and there was a whole dam there. She chose not to."

Du Toit was particularly disappointed at the reasoning behind the decision.

"Getting a DQ for being unsportsmanlike was not called for," she said.

"I understand if I punched her, I understand if I kicked her, I understand if I did something like that, but it's open water and what I did was (normal in) open water."

Du Toit said she would attempt to book her place at the London Olympics, in the 10km open water race, at a qualifying event in Portugal in June.


  • martin.gee.godfrey - 2012-04-18 11:42

    Natalie Du Toit does not have an "unsporting" bone in her body. She is the epitome of what is good about sport but some jumped up official takes it on himself to rule against her at a critical time in the preparation and qualifying for the Olympics. Shame on him and the authorities.

      Stormkaap - 2012-04-18 12:31

      I know Natalie and she wouldnt do that.. agree with you

      Saffa - 2012-04-18 21:32

      @Stormkaap You know Natalie, BWA HA HA HA Like you also know Andries Bekker and Roger Federer What a JOKER you are

  • SirFGrumpy - 2012-04-18 11:49

    Exceptionally sad, this offcial is just trying to claim publicity which they would otherwise not get!

  • Ivan - 2012-04-18 12:51

    Just as Natalie have no "unsporting" bone in her body, as have that official to make a split decision and reacting on it instantly. Not minutes or hours after. Immediately. Notwithstanding Natalie's history or abilities, why was it necessary to cut somebody off? Even in open water? Just like the other lady could use the rest of the dam to go around as could Natalie use the rest of the dam to get to the pad. She chose NOT to, but instead block off her competitor as a last split second decision to gain the advantage. Clearly a move made out of desperation to win rather than strategically. If the same move happened 100m back the opponent would have the time to go around, which an official's decision could have a different effect. A decision made by Natalie. Unfortunately/ fortunately an official saw the incident and made a decision about it. Which according to the rules of the game can be appealed against. And if the appeal fails the outcome have to be accepted (by ALL parties involved - competitors, officials and spectators or supporters). No matter what. THAT is sportsmanship.

      martin.gee.godfrey - 2012-04-18 13:22

      Are you an open water swimmer Ivan, have you raced to get to the pad first? It's a small pad compared to the size of the dam and it is common for swimmers to use the slipstream in the last few hundred metres so I beg to differ. At the point in the race where the finish line in sight, it is a straight shoot out to the finish, bodies in close proximity, stroke for stroke (as in all open water events). Having taken part in these types of swims, I can tell you that it takes more energy to cheat (in this instance cut-off) an opponent than it does to try and get to the finish line first and there is plenty of jostling for positions at the end. I will stand by my earlier ascertion that Du Toit did not knowingly seek to beat her opponent by cheating irrespective of the prize on offer.

      Ivan - 2012-04-18 14:16

      According to an official ON site there was an obstruction. I did not swim the race and you were not there. Your decision is biased on Natalie's good nature. The official thinks otherwise. My decision is made on cold hard facts according to information given and reasonability. Something doesn't seem right. And I have trust in officials calls. Officials placed there by organisers of events. Would the appeal not show who really were right or wrong? Lets wait for the appeal. In the meantime from the facts available it looks like I am favouring the decision of the official. How harsh it may seem.

      martin.gee.godfrey - 2012-04-18 14:41

      She did appeal and was turned down. We can argue the point for ages, but really, unless the other swimmer lodged an official complaint, which appears not to have been the case, the incident could have been seen as a "racing incident" (similar to that in Formula 1). The race referee only has to have "the opinion" that there has been "unsporting conduct" which in itself can lead to all sorts of interpretation and could be open to abuse and, surely, him, knowing the swimmers involved, would have been able to see if or whether it was meant as intentional or not. There is blatant unsporting conduct and there are racing incidents and frankly, it appears that one official had the power to disqualify based on what he (and it appears, only he) saw. Pretty unfair in the big scheme of things and unless we see video footage to prove otherwise, the official will have the benefit of the doubt and not the swimmer.

      Ivan - 2012-04-18 16:14

      Well said FerretGee. Looks like it's time for the officials to re-write the rule book as well as the book on appeals.

  • swim.vineyard - 2012-04-19 06:58

    See for yourself... watch the video.

      Greg - 2012-04-19 08:50

      Your link is broken. It should be http://youtube/GWnB1o-SWhY Anyway, i watched it and Du Toit held her line. The other swimmer made a tactical error by swimming on her outside.

  • Danny - 2012-04-19 08:38

    I don't care who the swimmers were... looking at the video evidence - that was a deliberate move and I don't care what the rules are about open water and not having lanes and having "the whole dam to swim in"... THAT was unsportsmanlike - kudos to the official who had the balls to call it for what it is!!

      Greg - 2012-04-19 08:55

      @Danny, I am a rugby referee and it was a marginal call. The appeal committee (hopefully not a one person panel) would have had time to review the issue and either clear the official or the swimmer.

  • Deon - 2012-04-19 08:39

    Deon iI thought it was just rugby where the ref or official are blind but it seems that in all S A sport is in total @#$% looks like the officials cant do the sport now thy became a referee and bugger the sport stars names up

      Greg - 2012-04-19 09:00

      @Deon, I am a rugby referee and have to make tough calls. I have no touch officials to help me. I have no video replays and I have a home crowd trying to sway my decisions. Both sides no the rules, it is just that they see how far they can bend them before being caught. We are trying to make it a fair contest...for both sides and not a crusade for the referee... There are match cards that both teams fill in after a game and submit to the rugby referee society for review. A referee is promoted based on passing exams and the review cards.

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