Cape Times

‘LUVO NEEDS HELP’

- ODWA MKENTANE odwa.mkentane@inl.co.za

IN AN exclusive interview with the Cape Times, SA long jump star Luvo Manyonga has detailed how the death of his mother has taken a toll on him, contributi­ng to his downfall.

He spoke for the first time, after being handed a four-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), for “whereabout­s failures”.

The 30-year-old from humble beginnings in Mbekweni, Paarl, who has battled with drug addiction in the past, said he was ready to fight his demons.

He said he is ready to come back stronger and better than before after failing three tests with the world athletics.

“I was nowhere to be found for my tribunal and the cause of that is finances, but I am not making that an excuse for my behaviour. It's just … not being stable and focusing on my career, doing some stuff that normal people do,” he said.

Manyonga said the death of his mother Joyce, at the end of last year, had taken a severe toll on him.

It was her R5s that ensured he was able to travel to Stellenbos­ch to train before becoming a global star.

“I found about two months ago that it's not myself who is going off track. I went to consult a traditiona­l healer and he prophesied about what is going on in my life and my late mother.

“When my mother died, apparently I was the one who was supposed to die and I was told that I was going to die by a gun.

“According to my culture, I was supposed to do a ceremony to thank my ancestors, who made it possible for me to be where I was.

“I never did ask for acknowledg­ement from them and they are very angry at me,” said Manyonga.

“My agency just dropped me in a manner that ... I (don't have) potential anymore.

“I never had an opportunit­y to update my whereabout­s myself. I do not understand how my agency did not know about my whereabout­s because they knew I was with my sister and they are the ones who controlled my money.

“I am not blaming them for my mistakes, but that gave them power to take advantage of me,” said Manyonga.

When he comes back to compete, Manyonga said he would shock the world.

He was the country's Sportsman and Sport Star of the Year in 2017.

He added that he still had the goal to start a youth academy and give back to his community.

In a summary in explaining the decision of the AIU disciplina­ry tribunal, sole arbitrator William Norris QC, of London, noted that Manyonga had three whereabout­s failures – which entails not submitting “your whereabout­s by a required deadline, or not updating your whereabout­s, or it was filed in an incomplete, inaccurate or insufficie­nt manner, or that you are not available for a doping test when required”.

With Manyonga, the AIU said that he had had three whereabout­s failures, within a 12-month period, beginning November 26, 2019 – a missed test on November 26, 2019; a filing failure effective April 1, 2020, and another filing failure effective October 1, 2020.

But the AIU said, because it was Manyonga’s second anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), the ban was increased to four years instead of two, as well as a nearly R20 000 award to World Athletics that the athlete will have to pay. World Athletics said Manyonga had made no submission in mitigation.

Athletics South Africa, at the weekend, committed itself to assisting Manyonga and said it was “totally gutted” by the four-year ban, and it would continue with the process of sending out a “seekand-find interventi­on team” to help him.

Manyonga won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as gold at the 2017 World Championsh­ips and 2018 Commonweal­th Games.

He is also the SA record holder, with a distance of 8.65m.

The family learnt about his ban on social media.

They are hopeful that if Manyonga receives the help he requires, he will return to the sport and do what he loves.

His father, John, appealed for the public’s support, as his son aims to challenge the ban.

 ?? AYANDA NDAMANE African News Agency (ANA) ?? LONG jump star Luvo Manyonga, who was handed a four-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for ‘whereabout­s failures’, speaks about some of the challenges he is facing. |
AYANDA NDAMANE African News Agency (ANA) LONG jump star Luvo Manyonga, who was handed a four-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for ‘whereabout­s failures’, speaks about some of the challenges he is facing. |
 ??  ?? CAPE Times’s 2017 leader celebratin­g Manyonga’s achievemen­ts
CAPE Times’s 2017 leader celebratin­g Manyonga’s achievemen­ts
 ??  ??

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