ASA finances shocking

Athletics SA’s money crisis racing towards R20m debt
Jan 16, 2010 11:37 PM | By David Isaacson

Athletics SA have debts of R14-million, but these could swell to R20-million, the embattled federation’s administrator Ray Mali has warned

Mali, appointed last year by the country’s Olympic umbrella body to oversee ASA, has previously spoken only of a bleak financial situation.

But in an interview with the Sunday Times this week, he gave details of the cash crisis. “You talk of R14-million, but it could be as much as R18-million to R20-million.”

More than half the debts are from unpaid commissions on sponsorships. Others include suppliers and legal costs.

“There has been a huge lack of (reporting) here. You have to follow the paper trail. We must try and turn this thing around,” said Mali, who took over after the SA Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee suspended then ASA president Leonard Chuene, his executive and some managers amid claims of maladministration, notably for their handling of the Caster Semenya debacle.

“I believe we’ll have to talk to the people we owe money to see if we can come to an arrangement … see how we can pay them back.”

The federation this week renewed the Yellow Pages’ track and field sponsorship until 2012, at R6.5-million per annum.

But the deal includes a guideline on how the money should be used. Zwelakhe Ndlovu, sponsorship manager for Trudon, publisher of the Yellow Pages, said ASA must provide an audit after the cash is spent.

The same requirement was included in their previous deal with ASA, but Ndlovu said: “It was not delivered.”

ASA’s financial status was a well-guarded secret under the Chuene regime and insiders say their 2008 annual report was never seen by anyone beyond the board - perhaps because the 2007 statements were leaked to the Sunday Times.

In 2007, ASA recorded an operating deficit of nearly R1-million and sources say this ballooned to around R4.5-million in 2008. Their 2007 balance sheet showed short-term liabilities of R17-million, although this was offset by assets.

They had a R2.9-million long-term loan for the bond on their Houghton property, up from R1.26-million the previous year.

There was no mention of payments to Chuene, who was said to have received a substantial bonus that year.

He was also alleged to have earned a salary, which is forbidden according to ASA’s constitution.

At the time, ASA dismissed a Sunday Times story exposing how the federation’s expenses had risen nearly R7-million from the previous year, with some huge hikes in administrative costs.

The federation also face lawsuits dating back to the Chuene era, including one from Semenya, who is still waiting to hear about her future from the IAAF, world athletics’ governing body.

A legal team investigating ASA will decide tomorrow what disciplinary steps to take against Chuene and his cohorts.

There have also been rumours that criminal charges could be laid, but Mali said this was for the legal team to decide.

Too much to hope for criminal charges


ASA board member Evans quits
Jan 19, 2010 10:55 PM | By David Isaacson

In a major blow for athletics, James Evans has resigned from Athletics SA’s interim board, citing interference from Sascoc, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee.

The Olympic body placed the ASA under administration when it suspended the athletics body’s president, Leonard Chuene, his executive and other staff members last year.

Some Sascoc staff were sent to ASA to deal with administrative problems and the interim board was set up to oversee the running of the sport for six months.

“The Sascoc-appointed administrators, or one in particular, are taking decisions which impact on athletics without first consulting the interim board, or are acting in conflict with decisions taken by that board,” Evans’ e-mail read.

The Sascoc representative had decided to close the ASA office over December even though “there were numerous matters that required urgent attention”.

His gripes included that the office had extended 2009 licences to the end of this month without consulting the provinces or the interim board.

“It reached a stage where I realised that nothing had changed: the ASA office, which does not have a reputation for slick efficiency and competence, was still running the sport; unilateral decisions were still being made at ASA House and communication to ASA’s members was poor, if not non-existent.”

Athletics insiders say the resignation of Evans, the president of Western Province Athletics, is a major blow because, as a lawyer, he brought important skills to a struggling organisation trying to relaunch itself.

Ray Mali, Sascoc’s leading administrator at ASA, was not available for comment.

Evans stressed: “I have no issue with Mali, as he is doing his best in a difficult situation. The issue is that the ASA office, and the Sascoc-appointed administrator in the ASA office, should not be making decisions on athletics issues.”

An e-mail is circulating within athletics suggesting that ASA members consider “two possible radical options”.

Either option would require a special general meeting to vote on it.

The first option would be to hold elections for a new board, “at the same time rejecting the Sascoc interference in the sport”, the e-mail said.

The other would be to vote for the dissolution of ASA.

"The assets of ASA would then be transferred to a new body with the same aims and objectives. The provinces would not be affected as they can affiliate to the new body.

“Sascoc would automatically be ousted and any financial troubles would ‘disappear’, as no lawsuits can be brought against the new body for ASA’s bungles.”

According to the e-mail, at least six provincial members would have to convene such a meeting.