No two ways about it, the governing body of track and field in South Africa has made itself into one big international boob. Nothing new there. But a recent lawsuit by a former athlete is threatening to take it to the cleaners, and Athletics South Africa, the country's governing body of sport, is begging the International Association of Athletics Federations to step in.
How has Athletics SA screwed the pooch? Let us count the ways:
- First there was the cover up of Caster Semenya's previous gender testing, tantamount to ASA knowingly sending her onto the worldwide stage despite the likelihood of controversy
- The subsequent investigation, which revealed a host of mismanagement and financial problems
- Everybody getting fired
- Then Blade Runner shooting his girlfriend through a door
But on Friday, pole vaulter Jan Blignaut won a massive lawsuit in which the courts ordered ASA to pay what amounts to nearly $1 million U.S. Blignaut, who suffered head injuries at a meet in Pretoria in 2009, has reportedly demanded the money be paid immediately.
The ruling, The New Zealand Herald reports, has the ASA's lawyer requesting a "stay of execution," predicting the settlement would force the organization into liquidation in order to settle its debts.
The ASA has sought advice from the IAAF, claiming that the case should have been settled through arbitration, not in civil court, per IAAF regulations. It's not clear, however, if the state can be overruled now that the court has already reached a verdict.
So ends a very bad week for Athletics South Africa. If history is any indicator, it probably won't be a the last.
[New Zealand Herald // Photo: AP Images]