• Charles Baloyi

ASA pleads with Luvo to come out of hiding

Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana has made a heartfelt plea to Mzansi long jump superstar Luvo Manyonga to come out of hiding so that the national federation can help him begin his rehabilitation. Last week, Manyonga's former agent Lee-Roy Newton told #TheTopRunner that the celebrated athlete is battling drug addiction. Newton claimed that the Western Cape-born former SA champion ran away from rehab twice. As a result of his drug problem, the reigning Commonwealth champion has been provisionally suspended by the Integral Athletics Unit (AIU) for failing to disclose his whereabouts on his birthday two weeks ago. The 30-year-old jumper could get a two-year ban which would rule him out of the Olympic Games in July.


Aleck Skhosana speaks to the media during the 2019 Sizwe Medical Fund SA senior Track & Field Championships. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

But Skhosana said he would not rest until he finds the 2016 Olympic silver medalist because they want to help him to get back on his feet as soon as possible and salvage what is left of his career. "We are talking to the people that are close to the situation to put something together so that we can help him. I have been reading about the young man's drug addiction in the media the whole of last week. I am deeply shocked about what I heard and read in the papers," said a concerned Skhosana.


Manyonga (centre) in happier times. Pictured here after wining gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

He said ASA accepts his suspension but can do nothing to help him unless he avails himself. The organisation's priority is to help him to kick his drug habit. "We are familiar with the issues that are affecting him and want to address it as soon as possible. Sadly, things turned out the way they have, and it gives ASA a bad name. He's our athlete and somehow his situation affects us. But we can not help him if he does not want our help," he explained.


Skhosana said although ASA provides drug education to all it's members, it is up to athletes themselves to take responsibility for their lives. "There is education about drug abuse in this country. ASA offers it to athletes, and the government is raising drug awareness for everybody in the country. Athletes must account for themselves. We regularly invite them to go and listen to an expert that kicked the habit. We make them aware about the dangers of drug abuse, so whoever that claims not to know about this is ignorant," insists Skhosana.


Luvo in his Nike kit during the Diamond League Series. Photo Credit: Luvo Manyonga.

Sports apparel giants Nike announced that they did not renew the 2017 World Champion's lucrative contract at the end of December, which means he loses out on his monthly stipend and sports gear. But they are willing to help him to kick the habit if they find him before it is too late. The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) also told #TheTopRunner that they will take Manyonga back to rehab if he is willing. In the meantime, ASA is waiting for feedback from his family and others close to him. Skhosana said ASA would not throw in the towel. " We sympathize with him on what he is going through. We will get the ball rolling as soon as we find him and agree on the way forward. But giving up on him is not an option," added Skhosana.

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