South Africa cricket at risk of ban as Olympic body steps in

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The crisis at South Africa's governing cricket body deepened Friday after the country's Olympic committee moved to investigate its finances and suspend the entire board.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) disputed the attempted action by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and said it will seek legal advice on what rights SASCOC has to "intervene” in its “business affairs.”

The CSA board and executives remain in their jobs for now.

SASCOC, South Africa's highest sports authority, oversees national sports federations and has problems of its own. Its leaders have for years been accused of mismanagement, and an election to choose a new Olympic committee president is months overdue due to infighting.

If SASCOC does take over the running of CSA, it would put South Africa's team in danger of being banned from international cricket. The International Cricket Council does not allow public bodies to interfere in national cricket associations. Neighbor Zimbabwe was banned last year for almost exactly the same thing, when a government-aligned sports commission suspended Cricket Zimbabwe's board and installed temporary leadership.

South Africa was previously the top-ranked test team in the world but its on-field performances have slumped while the scandal played out. It is currently eighth out of nine teams in the new test championship standings.

Cricket South Africa's problems center on its own investigation into allegations of mismanagement, which resulted in CEO Thabang Moroe being fired last month for “serious misconduct.” However, CSA has refused to make the report public amid widespread calls for transparency, fueling speculation it also implicates other senior officials still in their jobs.

And Moroe's exit hasn't stemmed the problems. Jacques Faul, who was called in to temporarily lead CSA as acting CEO while Moroe was suspended, resigned last month. Faul said in a newspaper interview that he had been powerless to stop an internal power struggle and it “could mean the end of CSA.”

Amid the scandal, the organization has made a $20 million loss in this four-year budget cycle, Faul said.

CSA's refusal to publish the findings of its own investigation and Faul's allegations are two of the reasons SASCOC gave for wanting to conduct another investigation.

Top South African cricketers have also spoken out. A group of internationals for the men's and women's teams sent an open letter to CSA accusing officials of putting “politics and self-interest" before cricket.

“Decisions must be made that are in the best interests of cricket, failing which the game we love may be irreparably damaged in this country,” the players said in the letter.

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