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This handbook would have rewritten Boucher’s case

Sport

This handbook would have rewritten Boucher’s case

Had this code of ethics been in force, CSA would not have been able to charge him on the Paul Adams issue

Sports reporter
Proteas coach Mark Boucher.
MARK MY WORDS Proteas coach Mark Boucher.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

Cricket SA (CSA) may have dropped charges against national coach Mark Boucher, but I wonder how many onlookers had already decided he was guilty of racism. 

Dirt has a habit of sticking. 

But there are two important elements in this whole saga. One is that Boucher apologised, and the other is that Paul Adams, who had spoken about unacceptable dressing room practices, including being referred to as a “brown shit”, accepted the apology.

In the context of the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, that should be sufficient; if the complainant can offer forgiveness, that should satisfy everyone.

It’s clear that nearly 30 years after the advent of democracy this country is still far from healing.  

In some ways Adams is the hero of this tale. He had the courage to come forward, tell his story and then accept Boucher’s apology. 

That Boucher has been able to keep his head down and do a pretty decent job through all of this is also impressive. It’ll be interesting to see whether Boucher’s critics will also be able to forgive, or will he remain tainted for the foreseeable future?

It’s clear that nearly 30 years after the advent of democracy this country is still far from healing.  

I recently stumbled across something that was too late to have had a bearing on Boucher’s disciplinary procedure. It was contained in a draft codes handbook that will be up for adoption at the next SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) council meeting next month. 

A new constitution is expected to be passed as well. 

The handbook contains a code of ethics and makes reference to a statute of limitation, with 20 years being the maximum period to bring a charge. 

Had that been in force CSA would not have been able to charge Boucher on the Adams issue. 

The handbook allows only one exception to the statute of limitations, and that is for offences involving safeguarding.

The rule should be that there must always be witnesses.

Sexual abuse is a major problem in SA, even in sport, and we’ve seen only the tip of the iceberg. Women and Men against Child Abuse (WMACA) officials often describe facing an inertia when going after coaches accused of abusing or raping athletes. 

Local sports federations, at Sascoc’s insistence, are finalising their own safeguarding policies, but even so, how accessible are they? 

The magnitude of this problem suggests there should be a clear code of conduct for coaches, and I’ve wondered whether safeguarding regulations shouldn’t start copying those for anti-doping.

For example, doping rules make it an offence to miss three tests. It’s considered the same as failing a drug test, even though there is no adverse finding, and athletes are banned. 

In a similar light, safeguarding policies should forbid one on one interactions between coaches and athletes, because that is where much abuse happens. Not all abuse, because there is also verbal abuse and bullying that takes place in front of squads.

So where it’s not possible for a coach to avoid a one on one scenario, there should be a camera recording video to a hard drive beyond the coach’s control. Or maybe the club at which the coach is working needs to arrange a couple of chaperones. 

The rule should be that there must always be witnesses. And breaking this one on one rule should be a breach, punishable with perhaps a one-month suspension for a first offence. Three such breaches and the coach should be banned for two years, or whatever. 

It seems harsh, but it would protect athletes as well as coaches. The overriding issue here is the safety of athletes, many of whom are children. 

And if anybody deserves to have dirt stick to them, for the rest of their lives preferably, it is sex predators.

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