SASCOC want to help Luvo
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is working with Athletics SA (ASA) to help struggling long jump star Luvo Manyonga. This after Athletics Integrity Unit provisionally suspended him for doping whereabouts on his birthday last week Friday. According to Manyonga’s former agent Lee-Roy Newton the Olympic silver medalist is battling drug addiction and has run away from rehab twice. But newly elected Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said once they heard about the lanky jumper’s drug problem, they wrote to ASA to find a way to help him.
Newton has revealed to The Top Runner that the 2017 World Champion suffered two arrests last year after allegedly stealing a cell phone, a car and other valuables that landed him in prison. He said the 30-year old's addiction is affecting everyone around him and is pleading with South Africans to help him kick the habit. "I am still prepared to help him. But I don't know where he is, but what I do know is that he needs help. I still care about him," said a worried Newton.
Nike also terminated its lucrative sponsorship deal that paid him big money every month and covered his gear. “Our contract with him ended at the end of December 2020. He is no longer associated with our brand,” said Nike SA communications manager Fareed Mohammed. The athlete has gone AWOL, and no one knows his whereabouts. “Luvo needs help. His drug abuse is deep. He associates himself with the wrong people, and his career is spiralling out of control. His drug addiction is affecting everyone around him. He is missing, and we do not know where he is. His family doesn't know where he is,” said a worried Newton.
Hendricks said Sascoc and ASA are working on a plan to rescue the fallen hero before it gets even worse. “Yes, Sascoc knows about the athlete and his addiction problems. One can never beat addiction without extensive help. We want to work with him to beat the addiction. However, he must be willing to work with us to help him. We are working closely with ASA, and we will provide the resources to help him to beat the addiction,” said Hendricks.
But it's not easy to help someone that does not want assistance. Newton said he disappears for weeks on end, and he keeps on changing his phone numbers. That is Sascoc’s concern as they are struggling to get hold of the athlete. On losing his sponsorship with with the global sports apparel giant, Hendricks was straightforward.
“You must take responsibility for what you do. Nike terminated his contract because of his behaviour, and there is no one to blame but himself. But we want to help him to beat the drug problem," explained Hendricks. Hendricks said Sascoc educate athletes about the danger of drug abuse through their medical commission. “We have regular meetings to give athletes and federations education about drugs. It is a challenge for us. We are talking to ASA to help him. We cannot allow him to be, forgotten. But it is up to him to work with us. We have to find him and take him to rehab and counselling,” added Hendricks.
Luvo lost his mother last year, and he could not cope with her death. He is allegedly broke and is said to owe a lot of people money. Sources close to the situation said he collected his medals, trophies, and other valuable stuff from his former agent. They fear that he sold them to feed his drug addiction. Efforts to try to reach the athlete were unsuccessful as his phone went to voicemail. Newton said his sister and other family members are looking for him.