A legend of cycling in South Africa believes he has a plan to return the sport to its former glory, but said he is battling to be given the opportunity to show what he can do.
Following the shock resignation of William Newman as president of Cycling South Africa in February, veteran cyclist Raymond Hogg said he wants to fill the position as soon as possible to implement his plan.
Hogg was an avid and renowned cyclist in South Africa from 1969 till 1983, an era he described as the “golden years of cycling”.
With a vast array of cycling achievements behind his name, Hogg said track cycling in particular was “huge” back then. However, when he attended a track event at Hector Norris Park a few months ago he was “disheartened at what I saw”.
“Track racing was huge with full crowds every week [back then at Hector Norris Park],” Hogg said. “A couple of months ago there was not a single spectator and races were made up of kids, ladies, juniors, seniors and vets just to get 15 riders to make up a field.”
Hearing about Newman’s resignation, Hogg then decided he wanted to do something about the sport “I once loved”.
“This prompted my thought that if cycling is this bad then it can only be from the top down and that someone should do something about it.
“This reminded me of the saying that bad things can only happen if good men do nothing, so I wanted to do something.
“It will require commitment on my part, but I am prepared to do it.”
Hogg, who turns 69 this year and who now runs a successful international art business, said he heard from a reliable source that cycling in South Africa was in trouble and that “they are in so much debt they cannot find their way out”.
“They [Cycling SA] are not going to get anywhere unless they change their management to a business management as opposed to that of a committee one.
“The post was open and that gave me the motive to apply [for the presidency position],” Hogg added.
Cycling SA then told Hogg they would elevate the vice-president to acting president until a review process in 2020.
Hogg said he had an undisclosed rescue plan which he believed could generate up to R150-million, but he was not prepared to wait until 2020 to implement it.
“I have a couple of ideas which if we implement and get everyone on board to do them we can generate up to R150-million to bring cycling back into line and to create a far better operation.
“But I am not going to wait until 2020. I might even be dead by then.”
Cycling SA then reportedly asked Hogg to present the ideas to them for the institution to implement, to which he replied, “not a chance”.
“They have run themselves into so much debt already. I do not need to hand these ideas over to a bunch of idiots who cannot even sort themselves out of a wet paper bag.
“I would rather keep my reputation intact and not bother.”
Hogg did not initially propose this “rescue plan” when he applied for the position, but he said since he did, Cycling SA had got back to him.
“I told them about the rescue plan later on and then they came back to me and asked me to talk to their general manager to put forward my idea.
“Again I said not a chance; those people are ruining SA cycling. Now they expected me to present a concept to them which will generate money; to a bunch of idiots who will not be able to run it. That would be stupid.”
Hogg said he wanted to make a difference at the federation. “I already have a very substantial business. It is not as if I wanted to go to Cycling SA to try to earn money while doing nothing.
“All the money the federation is currently generating is paid towards salaries and infrastructure. None of it is going back into cycling.”
However, he had not abandoned his proposed plan to make a difference at the federation.
“If they [Cycling SA] had come back to me and told me they wanted me to take over as president then I would activate the ideas that I have.
“Will the ideas be totally successful? I do not know. But does it [the concept] have a chance to be successful? Hell yes.
“My ideas were shot down in the past, but it took me four days to get a R50 000 sponsorship to start professional cycling.”
Cycling SA secretary general Gregory van Heerden said the federation’s management committee was already in the process of appointing the vice-president as acting president after the first two nominations – not including Hogg – were deemed unsuccessful.
Hogg only then called Van Heerden “out of the blue” last week. “He phoned me and chatted to me about his history in the sport as well as in squash and now diving,” Van Heerden said.
“I told him to make something up [in writing] and send it to me, so that I could note and raise it to [the] executive committee that he was interested in being considered [as acting president].
“But in that conversation and in his email there was no discussion around any financial plan or backing in place for the federation,” he said, referring to Hogg’s proposed R150-million rescue plan.
Van Heerden said if the management committee did show an interest in getting Hogg involved he would still have to follow normal processes.
“He would still have to follow a procedure of getting nominated, getting regional and/or provincial backing and sending that to us.
“We also have no record of him being involved in cycling since he left the sport in 1983.
“I did respond to him on May 25 giving thanks for his interest. I then explained to him that the management committee had already put through a proposal to the executive committee for the appointment of the vice-president as acting president.
“Firstly we would need to follow an appointment process for vice-president and as such I would keep him in the loop of the executive committee’s decision as well as any further nominations for the vice-presidency.
“I hinted that if he was still interested the position of vice-president would potentially have a slot where we will call for nominations.”
Van Heerden responded to Hogg’s statement that the federation was in “so much debt” and his undisclosed rescue plan.
“As far as I am concerned he has not proposed any rescue plan,” he said. “His statements were wrong, as we have already dealt with the problems of [our] cash status.
“There was never a proposal tabled and he never approached us prior to last week to have a meeting with us, not even in the provincial structures.
“He only came back to me after I had informed him of the process to tell me about his plan.”
However it was not too late for Hogg to come forward and still get involved, Van Heerden said.
“The process of appointing the vice-president as acting president is currently in play and the executive management has to either approve or not.
“If it is approved, the vice-presidency would then be opened. There is no reason why he would be excluded from still wanting to get involved.”