The synthetic track at the Sugathadasa Outdoor Stadium in Colombo, is the only synthetic track in the country to lay claim to a Grade 1 Certification issued by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
On several occasions, the Bitter Truth has highlighted discrepancies in the calling of tenders for the re-laying of the synthetic track. Pin-pointing bubbles on the track, discolourations, burns and other problems with the track for which there was a five-year guarantee, the Bitter Truth highlighted the fact that standards had collapsed owing to the failure to follow proper procedure.
At the time, experts questioned as to what mysterious transaction compelled the International Association of Athletics Federations or IAAF, to issue a Grade 1 Certificate for this synthetic track.
However, the contractor, the Chairman of the Sugathadasa Sports Complex, the Director General of Sports and the Minister of Sports, rejected the allegations levelled.
Speaking of the issue Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage stated,
“There is no fault whatsoever with the track. There are only slight shortcomings in the D section. We informed the contractor well beforehand to correct these. Thereby, International Associations have certified the track that has been laid as a excellent track.”
However, last Thursday, the Minister himself accepted that the guarantee given by him for this synthetic track was incorrect.
At a media briefing at the Sugathadasa Sports Complex Authority, the Minister had this to say.
“There is a clear issue here. We must accept that there has been a mistake. Otherwise there is no reason for it to come apart in this way.”
The far more serious issue here is that the synthetic track of the Sugathadasa Stadium is now at risk of losing its Grade 1 Certification from the IAAF. It is clearly noted in the IAAF’s handbook that the re-laying of a synthetic track or its deterioration, leads to the annulling of certifications issued for the track.
The Handbook notes that certification for such a track can only be issued following an inspection.
However, at the media briefing held on Thursday, the contractor and their foreign representative stated that they are unaware of such conditions. Sports authorities who rejected evidence provided by the Bitter Truth regarding the sub-standard nature of the track, have now been made to accept this as the truth.
Thereby, should they also not acknowledge the fact that a challenge has been posed to the Grade 1 Certification of the synthetic track at the Sugathadasa Stadium?
Are sport authorities not giving due consideration to protecting the Grade 1 Certification of the synthetic track at the Sugathadasa Stadium, considered the heart of athletics in this nation, because it is their usual practice to close the stable door after the horse has left?
Open for debate…