SUNETTE Viljoen has received R815,000 over the past three years, SA’s Olympic body has said in retaliation to the javelin star’s criticism of its Operation Excellence (OpEx) programme.
In a statement the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) called Viljoen, who won bronze at the recent Beijing world championships, disingenuous and accused her of being “neither sincere nor truthful”.
While Sascoc suggested Viljoen had contravened her OpEx contract, the body did not say if there would be disciplinary action. Viljoen wrote in a newspaper column that OpEx was a “pretty name for a big hullabaloo over bugger all” and warned that Sascoc would not achieve its ambitious target of 10 medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
She complained that she had to wait at least 14 days to be reimbursed her expenses, often longer, and that there was no funding for medical expenses once her medical aid limit was reached.
E-mailed queries were frequently met with out-of-office replies, she added.
Sascoc said it was surprised and disappointed by Viljoen’s statements, adding she should have approached the body directly with any complaints.
Sascoc said OpEx athletes received varying degrees of support, such as monthly stipends for food and accommodation, medical aid, training camps, travel to competition, scientific testing, equipment purchase, technological support, and a special fund for medical emergencies and injury treatment.
“To access funds, proper proof documents must be provided to show proper usage of funds received for the previous months.
“Unfortunately, some want the funds but don’t want to account for its proper usage,” said Sascoc.
“Viljoen is disingenuous when she falsely claims that athletes are afraid to speak out for fear of victimisation or withdrawal of OpEx funding.
“Viljoen fully understands that when she signed the OpEx contract, there are clear guidelines and rules she had to abide by. This is not unique to SA or Sascoc.…
“Viljoen is fully cognisant of the OpEx contract that allows her to approach Sascoc if she feels aggrieved. The fact that (she) failed to take that opportunity … indicates that (she) is neither sincere nor truthful.
“Since October 2012 up until September 2015, Viljoen has received funding from Sascoc for R815,514, which makes her the sixth-largest recipient of funds from Sascoc behind the swimmers and rowers.
“The total OpEx spend thus far is … R35m.”
Viljoen was unavailable for comment on Thursday morning.