The suspension of Zimbabwean long-distance sensation Isaac Mpofu has caused uproar in South African athletics and divided public opinion.
The 33-year-old ran a World Championships qualifying time clocking 2:10:04 to win the Durban International Marathon last week Sunday.
He rightly celebrated his victory and R50 000 prize money, only to discover that he got disqualified for a license violation.
Tumelo Motlagale of the Central North West province finished in second place in 2:11:15 and he got promoted to first place as a result of the disqualification of Mpofu.
According to sources, Mpofu and his representatives have written to World Athletics to appeal the decision.
They want his time in the 42,2km race to be recognized to qualify for the World Championships in the USA in July.
The Nedbank Running Club runner was distraught after he received the news from the race organizers.
“They wrote to World Athletics and are waiting for a response. He is more worried about the time because he qualified for the World Championships than the prize money. They are fighting on all fronts to force Athletics SA (ASA) to reverse its decision,” said the source.
But ASA chairman of road running Enock Skhosana said there is nothing that the athletics mother body can do about the suspension.
“It’s not ASA, it’s the rules. Rules are rules. There is nothing we can do,” said Skhosana.
Former Kwa-Zulu Natal Athletics president and ex-ASA board member, Sello Mokoena, sympathizes with the disqualified athlete. Mokoena weighed in on the suspension on his Facebook post.
“My post about disqualification of the winner of the 2022 Durban “International” Marathon elicited some interesting remarks, some out of ignorance and others downright malicious. We’ll leave the vicious gang who call others racists without backing it up to swim alone in their own mud, but for the ignorant, here we go; there are administrative and technical rules in sport. Administrators deal with administrative rules while technical officials deal with technical rules. The two act independently of each other,” said Mokoena.
“A technical official is not the extension of the ASA or KZNA administrative office and may not decide or correct, or be instructed by an administrator to let the participant run and if they win disqualify them after the effect,” Explained Mokoena.
In 2017, prominent road runner Lucky Mohale won the Dischem half-marathon title, but he got disqualified for not wearing a race number on the front and the back of his vest. Mohale tried to appeal the decision, but it was not reversed, he did not get his winning prize money and his time was declared invalid. He was told that rules are rules and gave up his fight to get his prize money.
ASA has yet to release a statement, but readers are divided about whether it was the right call to disqualify Mpofu on the ASA athletics page on Facebook.
By Charles Baloyi