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Race Organisers and Athletes Payments

by on October 11, 2012

What is an acceptable time period for athletes to be paid race winnings form race organizers? This is a very grey area within athletics circles on an International level as well as a local level here in South Africa. There are no official rules provided for from the IAAF or ASA on this subject matter. I have searched for this extensively, and have even gone as far as asking high ranking officials in athletics circles, and no one can direct me to literature on this matter.

Generally the way it works is that if there is no drug testing after a race on the race winners then either paid cash on the day, or in the event of the sums of money being substantial an athlete provides the race organizer with banking particulars where he / she would like their winnings paid into, this generally happens within 10 days of the race being completed.

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Should there be drug testing, it generally takes approximately 3 weeks for drug test results to be completed. (this in South Africa)These are then given to Athletics South Africa (ASA), who signs them off and submits to the Provincial Union that the race was staged in, who then signs this off and advises the race organizers of the results, to which the race organizers can then effect payment to the athletes.  Yes we know that if there is a positive drug test well then all just goes upside down and then you know you are in for a long wait as the various process must be followed with the athletes and all through the various chain of protocol, so is as long tedious process, but no one gets paid until the matter is finalized.


As a professional athlete / manager you know what the approximate time is based on the general norm that has been happening for many years, as to when payments should be made. There are however some races that can take up to 6 months to pay prize winners. EG: Rome International Marathon, state on their invitation or entry form that they will only pay prize money +-90 days after the race and reserve the right to delay by an additional 3 months for unforeseen circumstances. But they do state that if they are late by more than X days they will pay interest on the monies that are outstanding. So you know going into that race the exact position and process that will apply. NO GREY AREA.

With there being no real rules regarding this matter, it leaves the door open for huge problems for athletes. In South Africa there have been some high profile races of late, offering excellent prize money for winners, which is fantastic as this is what we have all been wanting, is to get some much needed cash rewards for the professional athletes to compete for, a huge positive and a step in the right direction. But its all good and well offering the prize money, but until its paid it is a worthless and or zero offering. Two of the big races did not do dope testing and one has made payment to athletes and the other not. The other race had dope testing and results of the test were cleared over 2 weeks ago, and yet no payment has been received from two of the races.

When contacting the races organizers on this, both organizers have advised the following two excuses as why the delay in payment :-

1: We have not been able to make payment as yet, as we are still trying to collect banking particulars from some of the prize winners. As far as I am concerned if an athlete does not submit banking particulars for his / her payment, then the race must pay the athletes that have submitted theirs. Why should all the other athletes be held up because of one or two people. Then if payment run is done by the race and some details are not in, then those people must wait for their money to be paid at a later stage. But NOT all prize winners should be held up. On the entry forms it states, if you win prize money you will be required to submit banking particulars in order to receive your prize winning. Now you know as an athlete if you will have a chance of winning prize money, so you should go prepared.  For example me – I have a 3H18 PB marathon, I know that I will not be in the mix to get winnings as I am just not in that league. But If I was a 2H20 athlete, I would know there is a chance I could be there. The race organizers are now chasing people to give them money, but holding up those who abided by the entry rules of the race.

2.  We have not paid as yet, as we are still waiting for the sponsors to pay us, but as soon as we receive the funds we will make payment. Now this really gets me going for sure!!!!! If you are offering prize money surely you make sure that come race day that all sponsor money is in your account so that you can pay prize winners. You know as a race organizer when your race is. Why should the sponsor pay now after the race has happened, as they have received their coverage and exposure, and if the race organizer messed it up and didn’t adhere to their promised exposure and deliverables, the sponsor can turn around at this time and say we are not paying as we didn’t get X or Y as per contract. Then where does that leave everyone.

The problem I have with these above two excuses is that none of the races actually seem to be placing any urgency on getting the payments done. Athletes did not enter the race on the understanding that prize money will only be paid once sponsors have paid. One enters the race on the understanding that you have to abide by IAAF / ASA and Race rules and regulations, and have to sign the entry form as acknowledgement. Essentially this is the binding contract between athlete and race organizer. So surely the onus is on the race organizer to make sure they have all the money in the bank to be able to effect payments as quick as possible.


So where does this leave the athlete for recourse to receive his payment.  Does he / she sue the race organizer, and include the likes of the Provincial Body, ASA and IAAF as respondents in the matter as all races are sanctioned and governed by their rules and chain of command of these organizations. If they cannot be included as respondents and the race organizers have to be sued as a stand alone entity, then the race cannot be run under the rules of the IAAF and ASA and the Provincial Body.


In my humble opinion that when a Race organizer makes application to stage a race through the various structures that it should be a prerequisite that:


  1. The organizer, if offering prize money, must confirm to the Bodies that they have in fact got the money for the prize winners, and only once they can prove this to the Bodies that the authorization is granted to stage the race.
  2. If they do not have the funds as they are awaiting income from contracts with sponsors, then the Provincial Body, ASA or IAAF should stand as surety for the payments for athletes, if they grant the license or authorization for the race to be staged.
  3. IAAF / ASA should include into their rules and regulations a defined time period for race organizers to make payments
    1. If no dope testing, then 10 working days maximum to effect prize winners payments
    2. If dope testing – Dope Control a maximum of 21 working days to complete results, and thereafter if all clear from dope testing 5 working days to effect payments.


  1. If a race is going to pay prize money of over ZAR20 000 then the race organizers need to pay this money across to ASA (in the case of being in SA), and ASA will effect the payments to athletes for prize winnings form that particular race. The race submits results to ASA and ASA then pay the athletes.

Athletes / Managers / Agents / Coaches are all required to play by IAAF / ASA rules and regulations, which there are a lot of them, but not much is done or has been done from these structures to protect athletes from non payment from races. If they were in control of the money then there is one central point to collect from, which will also take the issues away from race. If I am at a race and do something wrong according to the IAAF / ASA / Race Rules – My athlete running the race will be disqualified! We are one on race day. I am expected to abide by the rules as much as the athlete running the race.

It is easy to do: When you apply for your ASA license you submit banking details, tax numbers etc, as well as when applying for International athletes, one must supply banking particulars at the same time. Thus ASA (In South Africa) will have a complete data base of these details of athletes, and then payments will / should run smoothly.


(I use ASA as an example, but this can be applied to all countries under the IAAF code)


As an example Mandela Marathon was sponsored by a Local Council, which has huge protocol / measures in place to curb any corruption, so it was going to be difficult to pay individual athletes as the paper work required for each person would be hectic. But to the good of KZNA, they stepped in and found a solution to this, and decided to do the paperwork as one entity as this would be far easier, and then they paid out the athletes. Which was FANTASTIC for all concerned. So yes there was a delay but KZNA stepped up and came with the solution, and as far as I am concerned this worked. So why can this not work on a National and or International level!!!!!

Thanks to Norrie Williamson, Kevin Bradfield, Brad Glasspoole for making that happen. Good administrators and organizers finding a solution for the better of the sport.  Maybe some of the other races and provincial bodies from my mention above should take to this route.


Ask yourself – How you react if your company did not pay you your salary at the end of the month for the job done? – You would not be able to pay your bills or even buy food for your family! You would be pretty angry, and would probably not pitch for work the next day / go on strike / or go to work and do nothing!!!!!!

This is exactly what is happening to the athletes when races don’t pay them for winning, or delay payments!  How do they eat, pay the rent, transport, electricity, water – THEY DON’T! As a manager I then have to step in a pay them something so they can survive for the short term, but I too have paid out the accommodation, transport, flights, race entries, food etc for the race and this can average anything from ZAR4000 to   ZAR 8000 per athlete just to come and run 1 race in SA!
Solutions are needed to make the process far easier and streamlined.


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  1. Kiplangat kirui permalink

    We realy thankyou craig for your feeling about the serfering of the athlete,we’ve been facing the cosiguences all through but thanks if changes will effect thankyou for all.

  2. plustenner permalink

    Great blog, raising some very good points!

  3. charles permalink

    I would suggest that you have raised a number of questions without appearing to answer any of them. As an experienced administrator I have tried to look for areas of difficulty and tried to find solutions to offer along with the criticism.
    Perhaps if you try that approach Craig, you will either begin to appreciate the magnitude of the problems experienced by race organisers or find a way to assist them.
    Most race organisers are well-intentioned unpaid amateurs who do things for the love of the sport. By hitting them with a stick (justified or not) you will drive them away.

    • Hi Charles.

      Thank you for reading and your comments. Whilst I hear what you have said and I have to disagree with you, as in the middle of my blog, I wrote some suggestions as to how this can be done. I also dont really think you have understood where I am coming from.

      I am the first person to get involved and assist wherever I can. I am all for doing what is needed to elevate the sport to higher levels. SO please dont think for one minute that I am hitting administrators and races with a stick.

      I have worked in professional sports for many years and hence me making suggestions as to how the higher profile races can do things to make it better, not only for themselves but for all concerned.

      The tone and place I am coming from is one of professionalism, and lets face it, If you going to offer 30 000 or 250 000 for first place in a race, this is huge money, and fantastic for the sport, but then this needs to be handled professionally. If you are offering R500 for 1st place then you know that this 500 is a token for an athlete to win and a good gesture from the club that is hosting the race.

      When I go to races with my guys, we send out on average 40 – 60 tweets per race to over 18 000 people per tweet. So gaining good exposure for that race. No one else does that too as many people that we can reach. From the twitter accounts I manage I am able to send 1 tweet that will reach over 24 000 people at a time. SO I like to think I do my bit from that side, and there is a lot more I can do.

      But when you offering large sums of cash for prizes, you are going to attract the professional athletes, that are there to win as this is their livelihood. The main tone of my post was that of, it is not acceptable that after the race advise prize winners that they can only pay the cash once they have received the money from sponsors, or that the sponsors are doing due diligence on them. What if the sponsor says sorry we are not paying because the race did not have the correct branding where they were promised. Then who is then responsible for the athletes payments? The race will just turn around and say, ahh sorry guys cant pay you now because sponsor didnt pay.

      I am not an elite athlete by any stretch of the imagination and never will be. I am too one of the guys that runs in the middle of the pack as I like to run, and enjoy it. So I am mindful of all athletes requirements. Some are there for fun and enjoyment. Some are chasing PB times, and some are there for a living. I just happen to make a living from this from managing athletes. So I wear two hats at races.

      I have even gone as far as sending races suggestions on how they can improve and have also offered my serviced free of charge to assist with marketing for the races. I take my hat off to the people that give of their free time to put on races, but as I have said before, these people must also be mindful that there are some at their races that are there to make a living, so its a case of meeting in the middle for everyone to be happy.

      Problems do exist at races and we all understand that, and maybe some race organisers should use some of the advise I send them so they can get better, I am not saying I am right in any way, but sometimes looking at things from a different point is good. I have been GM of divisions of one of the biggest sporting brands in Africa so sometimes I do know what i am talking about. 🙂

      There is a lot to be done on all aspects of running and i think that KZNA are getting it right now, and it is fantastic. And for real I am the last person that is there to make issues, but from my side I and my athletes make a living from the sport so we are pretty protective and fiercely competitive. Much the same as anyone would be in protecting their income.

      Thanks and I am happy to discuss things or suggestions at any time.

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