PAY US WHAT YOU OWE

Renowned South African runner Hendrick Ramaala has urged the South African Sports Confederation and International Olympic Committee to pay athletes who represented the country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as promised.

Renowned South African runner Hendrick Ramaala has urged the South African Sports Confederation and International Olympic Committee to pay athletes who represented the country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as promised.

Ramaala told Sowetan yesterday that most athletes who went to Beijing were promised to be paid by Sascoc but were disappointed and frustrated that it has reneged on its promises.

A lawyer by profession, Ramaala said they were not taking Sascoc's empty promises lying down but would fight tooth and nail to get what belongs to them.

"At the beginning of 2008, we had individual meetings with Sascoc as part of the preparations for the Beijing Olympics and I gave them my programme," said Ramaala.

"I told them I was going to run three events prior to the Olympics, being the London Marathon, South African Marathon and New York Half Marathon.

"Sascoc did not want me to run but to rather train for the Olympics, but I explained to them that I have to run for income since I was a full-time athlete and rely on running to eke out a living.

"We agreed that I would compete in all the three events. Sascoc said they would cover my expenditure, including gym and medical costs.

"I can't keep quiet anymore, my bills are piling up. I don't want to become a laughing stock where people will say sports people cannot take care of their finances.

"Sascoc told us they did not have money at that stage, but we have read in the media that they have received R400million from the National Lottery Board.

" I really cannot understand why they are treating us like this. It's like those of us in track and field as well as road running are punished because of the tensions between our sports leaders."

Gideon Sam, Sascoc president, said they were planning a meeting with all the stakeholders with the hope of resolving the matter.

"I have heard about the issue, we need to deal with it and start working on the preparations for the 2012 London Olympics."

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