Picture: 123RF/ALESSANDRO0770
Picture: 123RF/ALESSANDRO0770

The new Athletics SA board on Thursday said it is scrapping the controversial qualifying standards used by the previous executive.

The federation had in the past implemented what it called A qualifying standards‚ demoting the world governing body’s criteria to B standards.

But the board member in charge of track and field‚ Jean Verster‚ told a media conference in Johannesburg that that system had been scrapped.

“Our opinion is that any athletes who qualify according to World Athletics‚ IOC [International Olympic Committee] ... will go. And there’s no B standards‚ it’s the end of those‚” said Verster. “If you qualify according to the organising body of that particular championships‚ you will go.”

In a highly controversial move in 2017‚ Athletics SA omitted 14 qualified athletes from its World Championship squad.

There was also confusion as to what Athletics SA might do with the two levels of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.

Athletes can qualify automatically by achieving standards approved by World Athletics and the IOC by the June 29 deadline‚ or through the new system of world rankings.

Verster‚ however‚ was unambiguous. “We are here for the athletes. Coming from an athletic background myself it’s the worst thing, you qualify and you don’t go.”

Verster added, however, that in cases where there were more qualifiers than spots available at a championship — the Olympics allow for three entrants per country in each event — they would have to choose between them.

He also did not want injured athletes taken on trips as “passengers”.

They are organising extra meets for athletes to try to qualify‚ including one at Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town next Saturday.

Caster Semenya is unlikely to run another 5‚000m here but is expected to do it at the African championships in Lagos later this month. Semenya is trying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the 5‚000m.

The new board was elected last month.

New president James Moloi said Athletics SA is talking to prospective sponsors — and some companies had shown interest — as well as to broadcasters. He wants events to be screened live.

Moloi is looking for financial incentives to athletes to break records and to prepare for international championships.

He also said they are looking at sending a small team to the Eastern Cape to meet long jumper Luvo Manyonga‚ who has been suspended for a doping violation. “We will try find out how we can help.”

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