An appeal lodged by An-Li Kachelhoffer regarding the result of the elite women’s race at the National Road Championships in February has been turned down by Cycling South Africa.
The Rio Olympian lodged her appeal after a decision by commissaires was contrary to what had allegedly been communicated to participants prior to the event.
According to the Bestmed-ASG rider, technical guidelines had stipulated that should an U23 rider win the race, she would not be awarded the elite women’s national title as well.
“At the race manager’s meeting it was discussed that it would be two races taking place simultaneously.
“We were told before and during the race that it would be two races, but afterwards they told us it was one,” she said.
However, when Kachelhoffer finished behind U23 competitor Heidi Dalton, the commissaires’ panel ruled that Dalton would be awarded both the U23 and elite titles.
Kachelhoffer appealed against the result and after four months of investigation, a report compiled by an appeal panel ruled the result of the race as final and that it could not be overturned.
“Right now I’m feeling a complete mix between confusion, shock and disbelief,” said Kachelhoffer, who won Tour Durban recently.
“I’ve been dealing with this for months and now they’ve said that I cannot even appeal the result – it just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Despite feeling many aspects did not add up, Kachelhoffer said she would not take the matter further.
“To take this further we’d have to take it to the High Court and that requires additional funding.
“I’ve put so much into this already that it just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. There really isn’t any incentive to appeal the decision any further.”
Cycling South Africa secretary-general Gregory van Heerden said after going through the appeal process it was found that a commissaires’ ruling had been made on the day of the event.
“What we found in the course of the investigation was that the comms panel had made a ruling regarding the awarding of the national jerseys and, according to the UCI rules and regulations, which govern any event under our auspices, that decision cannot be appealed,” he said.
“We became aware of this information later in the investigation. If we’d been aware of this from the beginning then the panel would have notified her right at the very start that that there was no appeal mechanism available.”
Van Heerden explained that under UCI regulations any rule by a commissaire was final and could not be appealed by any team or athlete.
Although a technical guideline was presented to the riders, chair of the appeal panel, David van Niekerk, explained that any rules passed by Cycling SA would be trumped by the international body’s rules.
“In this case Cycling SA have their rules as a national federation but they have to apply them in line with UCI’s rules,” said Van Niekerk, who is also an attorney.
“In the past, when an U23 has won in the combined race, he has been named the South African national champion overall, not just the U23 champion.
“We saw this in 2014 when Meintjes, the younger rider, crossed the line first.”