Chuene laid bare
Found guilty of lying, mismanagement and sacrificing Semenya’s dignity
Timeslive.co.za Feb 18, 2011 12:16 AM | By CHARL DU PLESSIS
Shocking details of Leonard Chuene’s mismanagement of Athletics South Africa were revealed yesterday when the findings of an internal disciplinary hearing against him were made public.
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A damning 63-page report details the evidence that led to Chuene being found guilty on 14 of the 16 charges brought against him by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee after the entire board of ASA was suspended in November 2009.
In his report, advocate Norman Arendse said the charges referred to “rampant abuse of ASA resources, an abuse of power and authority, self-aggrandisement, greed and, quite frankly, corruption”.
In relation to the ASA’s handling of the gender row over 800m world champion Caster Semenya, Arendse said: “Both Mr Chuene and [suspended ASA vice-president Kakata] Maponyane are found guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation, dishonesty, dereliction of duty and abuse of their respective positions.”
The hearing found Maponyane guilty on four charges and suspended ASA director Simon Dlamini on five.
Chuene, who, like the others, did not attend the hearing , was found guilty of bringing ASA into disrepute, draining its finances, authorising loans to himself, paying money to his former personal assistant to keep quiet about an extra-marital affair he had, and of the irregular appointment of a senior staff member.
Sascoc said it has handed over a forensic report to the police with a view to laying possible criminal charges. Attempts to confirm this with several police spokesmen were unsuccessful last night.
Arendse found that Chuene lied about gender tests performed on Semenya in South Africa in August 2009 before she attended the World Athletics Championships in Berlin.
He said he accepted the evidence of team doctor Harold Adams that Chuene claimed to have “consulted with high-powered politicians in South Africa” and received the green light from them for Semenya to compete in Germany.
The report finds that “Mr Chuene lied … to the media and the public about the tests and his and ASA’s knowledge of the tests”.
Chuene hit back yesterday via his lawyers by labelling the findings a “motley of platitudes, legal sophistry and pontificating”.
“It is now a matter of public record that we have consistently registered our objections to our suspension on the basis inter alia that Sascoc did not have the authority to take the action it did against us,” said Chuene.
”We are now lodging a review [in the] high court,” he said.
Adams had allegedly advised Chuene that the results of the gender test performed on Semenya in South Africa were “not good” and there was “strong evidence” to suggest she should be withdrawn.
Adams claimed Chuene initially accepted this advice but the next day told the International Association of Athletics Federations medical team that “withdrawing Semenya from the Berlin event was not acceptable to top-level South African politicians”.
He added that if the IAAF insisted on her withdrawal, “they would face the wrath of the South African government because it would not hesitate to take the IAAF to the highest court in the world”.
Government spokesman Jimmy Manyi refused yesterday to comment on Arendse’s findings that Chuene had consulted with high-powered politicians.
Chuene was found guilty of infringing Semenya’s right to dignity because he insisted she compete despite the fact that he was told by the IAAF medical team this would subject her to gender tests. The IAAF testing led to the international controversy around the legitimacy of the athlete’s gold medal.
Other findings relate to financial management during Chuene’s tenure. The report says that “from a positive bank balance of R500000 in 2005, by the end of the financial year in 2008 ASA was in the red to the tune of in excess of R7-million”.
It says the evidence in this regard shows “Chuene played a central and pivotal role in breaking virtually every rule in the ASA rulebook.”
Tubby Reddy, CEO of Sascoc, said a copy of the forensic report into ASA’s finances was handed to the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions in August last year.
“The feedback we got in January was that the police are quite near to formalising charges,” he said.
Arendse found that:
�Chuene, “aided and abetted” by Maponyane and Dlamini, obtained loans worth R183451 between 2006 and 2009, despite being ineligible for such loans, and instructed a finance department employee to conceal these loans;
�There was an affair between Chuene and a woman ASA employee, and that his previous personal assistant was paid R90000 so she would “remain silent” about “such intimate relationship”;
�Chuene was sold an ASA Mercedes-Benz for R1 and failed to transfer the vehicle into his name, forcing ASA to continue to maintain the vehicle and pay insurance;
�Chuene, with the knowledge of the other respondents, appointed Banele Sindani as Sascoc CEO in 2007 despite a resolution that a strategic planner/adviser was required. ASA paid Sindani, who was “rarely at the ASA offices”, more than R1.7-million;
�Chuene failed to submit a reconciliation or supporting documentation for $20000 “given to him for the purpose of promoting” his election to the IAAF council;
�He received duplicate per diem (per day) payments during athletics events from ASA (R264463) and the IAAF (R199975);
�Chuene, Maponyane and Dlamini were in breach of their duties when Chuene was awarded a bonus of R150000 in November 2007 by the ASA finance committee, which has no power to do so; and
�The three failed to avoid being party to a 10% salary increase for all ASA employees in 2009 and an increase in honorarium pay for board members’ attendance at meetings from R947 to R5000 per meeting, and a rise in Chuene’s salary from R19067 to R35000.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula’s spokesman, Paena Galane, said: “We have received the report from Sascoc and the minister has taken the report for the department to look at and advise on appropriate measures. This is still an internal process taking place within the department.”
Sascoc’s Reddy said they released the findings because they had promised transparency.
– Additional reporting by Retha Grobbelaar