SPORTS DAY: Sacoc 'is toxic and threatening'
Mninawa Ntloko rounds up the news you need to know
Explosive revelations at Sascoc inquiry
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) was dysfunctional‚ the ministerial committee of inquiry into governance issues at the umbrella body heard on Monday. Desiree Vardhan‚ in charge of coaching at Sascoc‚ told the inquiry the environment at work was “very toxic and threatening” and innovation was shunned. She also testified she had been shocked to discover in 2016 that her budget for the year was less than R300‚000‚ but government had given Sascoc R2.4-million specifically for coaching. Among those who testified on the opening day of the inquiry was former Athletics SA board member Laraine Lane‚ who pointed out that Sascoc board member Hajera Kajee had been on the sports distribution agency for Lottery funds. She also claimed that Sascoc president Gideon Sam’s name was on the letterhead of a marketing company‚ Insight‚ alternatively known as Accelerate. “The administration of Sascoc are bullies. I don’t believe they have any respect for any federation,” said Lane.
Moosajee confirms Tahir racism probe
Proteas team manager Mohammed Moosajee said on Monday an investigation had been launched by Cricket SA after an Indian fan was ejected from the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday after allegedly racially abusing Imran Tahir. The alleged incident happened during the “Pink” fourth ODI between South Africa and India which the Proteas won. A video surfaced on social media showing legspinner Tahir in an altercation with an “unknown fan”. “My understanding from Imran’s perspective is that he was racially and verbally abused by a certain gentleman throughout the match‚” Moosajee said. “He reported to the stadium security who were stationed in front of the dressing room. Two of the security personnel accompanied him to identify the perpetrator.”
Drought to delay WP club rugby season?
Severe water shortages in Cape Town could force the Western Province Rugby Football Union to postpone the start of the club rugby season. Because most club fields are in a dire state due to lack of watering over the scorching summer‚ player safety is an issue and last week the union met with the City of Cape Town to discuss the impact on club rugby. WPRFU president Thelo Wakefield sent a letter to all clubs outlining the process for the coming weeks and months. “At the executive committee meeting of WP Rugby held on February 6 it was resolved that the Club Rugby Department consult with all its affiliated clubs about the possible postponement of club rugby fixtures to commence in the first week of June 2018,” Wakefield wrote. The matter will be decided at the union’s next meeting on February 27.
Froome to ride out asthma drug row
Chris Froome will start his 2018 season as favourite for Spain’s Ruta del Sol on Wednesday, defying calls from senior figures in world cycling to withdraw from racing over the adverse drug test result he returned last September. The four-times Tour de France winner had twice the permissible amount of the asthma medication Salbutamol in his system after stage 18 of the Tour of Spain — a race he went on to win — but the Team Sky rider, who says he has done nothing wrong, did not receive a provisional suspension. International Cycling Union president David Lappartient and rival riders Romain Bardet and Vincenzo Nibali have all said the British cyclist should cease racing until his case is resolved. But Froome and Team Sky remain intent on the 32-year-old riding out the controversy with a full racing programme, including May’s Tour of Italy and July’s Tour de France.TENNIS
Serena loses but is ‘on the right track’
Serena Williams was understandably far from her best in her return to competition on Sunday but the greatest player of her generation said it was a positive step toward her goal of returning to the pinnacle of her sport. Williams, playing her first official match since having a baby, and older sister Venus were beaten in a dead doubles rubber by the Netherlands in the Fed Cup in Asheville, North Carolina, but walked away feeling upbeat. “I honestly feel better than I thought I was going to feel,” said Williams, who prior to Sunday had not played a competitive match since her 2017 Australian Open victory. “I feel like I didn’t expect to play, you know, like that for me. I feel like I’m on the right track.” Williams, who gave birth to her first child last September, showed glimpses of both her prowess and rust during the 6-2 6-3 loss to Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove.
Could Real Madrid lure PSG’s Neymar?
As Paris St Germain gear up for their blockbuster Champions League last-16 first leg tie against Real Madrid on Wednesday, much of the media attention has focused on whether their most prized asset Neymar will eventually make a sensational move to the Santiago Bernabeu. The Brazilian became the most expensive player of all time last August when PSG swiped him from Barcelona for €222 million euros, although Real have coveted the forward since he was 13 years old. Real president Florentino Perez recently said his side tried to sign Neymar before he joined rivals Barca in 2013 and reiterated his desire to bring the Brazilian to Madrid. Neymar has scored a remarkable 28 goals in 27 games in all competitions for the runaway Ligue 1 leaders, although he has not always cut a happy figure in Paris.
Federer hoping for dream return to No 1
Roger Federer said on Monday he could allow himself to dream about recapturing the world number one spot at this week’s Rotterdam tournament and becoming the oldest man ever to hold the position. To climb back to the top at the age of 36, the Swiss must at least reach the semifinals. If seedings hold up, that means he would have to defeat compatriot and friend Stan Wawrinka in what would be a high-profile quarter-final. “I’m hoping to get to number one and hoping to do it this week. You always want to do it the tough way, it’s not easy to get there. The achievement would be quite incredible.”
French cleared of alleged sexual assault
The French team’s flight back from Edinburgh following their Six Nations defeat by Scotland was delayed on Monday so squad members could be interviewed as potential witnesses to an alleged sexual assault, police said. The plane carrying the France squad was halted by police on the tarmac and several players were taken off. “Following an initial report of sexual assault in Edinburgh city centre during the early hours of Monday 12th February, police conducted various lines of inquiry, including speaking to a number of potential witnesses,” said a Police Scotland statement. “These inquiries have established that no crime has been committed.”
Wust powers to 1,500m skating gold
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands claimed a record 10th Olympic speed skating medal when she surged to gold in the women’s 1,500 metres at the Gangneung Oval on Monday. Wust, who is also the first Dutch athlete to win five Olympic gold medals, crossed the line in one minute 54.35 seconds, with Japan’s Miho Takagi taking the silver and another Dutch skater Marrit Leenstra winning bronze. Wust’s second medal of the Games lifted her past Germany’s Claudia Pechstein to stand alone as the most successful speed skater in history.
Russia World Cup to lift local economy
This year’s soccer World Cup will bring a small boost to the Russian economy but could also cause a short-term spike in inflation, the Russian central bank said on Monday. President Vladimir Putin is hoping to use the World Cup, from June 14 to July 15, to showcase Russia as a global superpower and reinvigorate areas of the country where the economy has stagnated with an influx of tourists and spending. The central bank said spending on preparations for the tournament had already helped support the economy, which returned to growth last year after a two-year downturn. “Concerning the second and third quarters of 2018, the short-term positive impact on the Russian economy will be the growth in jobs and increase in demand for consumer products and services,” the bank said. “A small, short-term increase in prices for some goods and services (food, entertainment, hotels) is possible, which will lead to profits for a few companies.”
Reuters, TimesLIVE, AFP