“Unfair, irrational” Sascoc faces R5m lawsuit from fencer over Rio Games
A SOUTH African fencer is suing Sascoc and the national fencing federation for more than R5 million for not selecting her for last year’s Rio Olympic Games.
Epée fencer Juliana Barrett charges that she had earned qualification when she won the official International Fencing Federation (FIE) qualifying tournament for Africa in Algeria.
“Following her qualification for the Olympics, the Fencing Federation of SA recommended to Sascoc that Barrett be entered to represent SA at the 2016 Olympics,” Barrett’s lawyers, Thomson Wilks Inc stated. “The FIE also notified Sascoc of Barrett’s qualification for the 2016 Olympics and advised it of the deadline – 6 June 2016 – to confirm her participation in the event.”
Barrett alleges Sascoc failed to meet the deadline and “acted in an unfair, arbitrary, capricious and irrational manner.”
According to the agreement between Sascoc and the Fencing Federation of South Africa (FFSA), continental qualification would not be considered. FFSA president Novak Perovic said they had a few meetings with Sascoc to loosen the criteria to no avail.
This is the same policy that saw the men’s and women’s hockey teams lose their bids to qualify for the Games despite winning the continental championships at the end of 2015.
FFSA has also been included in the summons for its “complicit involvement in the failure”.
Perovic pointed out that it remained Sascoc’s prerogative to decide who is selected.
Barrett’s lawyers claim her exclusion from the team would cost her sponsorship to train and study in the US. This, they said, would also have covered the costs of her competing in qualifying tournaments for the 2020 Games.
“As such, Barrett is suing Sascoc and the Fencing Federation of SA for R5 673 600 plus interest, the cost of the lawsuit, and possible future relief.” the lawyers said.
Thomson Wilks, managing partner Stephen Thomson, said: “We intend to make full use of Juliana’s legal remedies to ensure she is compensated for the financial losses she now faces as a result of Sascoc’s negligence.”
Sascoc president Gideon Sam said they would be able to successfully challenge the charge.