rACE row erupts

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Another act of alleged racism has hit local sport.

This time it is alleged that racist remarks where made at an athletics meeting in Tshwane at the weekend.

Athletics SA acted swiftly and suspended Francois Fouche, an official at the University of Johannesburg Athletics Club, who is alleged to have made the remarks.

Fouche allegedly told John Mathane, a top athletics official in Gauteng, among others, that "the reason that athletics is going down is because it is run by blacks".

Mathane, who is a board member at Athletics Gauteng North, confirmed to Sowetan yesterday that Fouche said those words.

He said the incident took place on Saturday, the second day of the South African Youth and Junior Championships.

The ugly scene started when Mathane, in his capacity as ASA anti-doping steward at the event, had apparently prevented an athlete from receiving her medal as it was too late for her to join other athletes in the arena.

Mathane is said to have assured the athlete and her mother that they would be handed her medal after the proceedings, an explanation that they are believed to have accepted.

Fouche is believed to have objected to Mathane's arrangement.

"He did not have the right to object because he was not an official on the day. He lied that he was a manager of University of Johannesburg Athletics Club.

"He verbally insulted me and black officials who are running athletics in the country," said Mathane, who is also AGN chairperson of road running.

"I felt very offended by his utterances, which were unacceptable and uncalled for.

"I urge ASA to take strong disciplinary measures against him to set a precedent."

It is understood that Fouche's utterances were corroborated by two independent witnesses who were nearby when the incident took place.

Mathane said Fouche, who could not be reached yesterday, only apologised for causing a scene but did not withdraw his remarks.

ASA's general manager Molatelo Malehopo would not confirm nor deny Fouche's suspension when approached yesterday.

He said they would comment when the time was opportune.