Maketela retains seat

MASERU — Long-serving Lesotho Athletics Amateur Association president, Justice Maketela, has been re-elected for another four-year term.
Maketela — who has led the association since 1995, after taking over from Lipholo Makhetha — outpolled sole-challenger Godfrey Kakande by a massive 26-5 at the LAAA annual general meeting held in Maseru on Sunday.  
An ecstatic Maketela told the Lesotho Times his first assignment is to ensure elite athletes are accorded the necessary support.  
“I’m very happy because the athletes have shown that they are satisfied with my leadership,” Maketela said.
“It is satisfying and encouraging when people show that they trust you by electing you as their president.”
After a bitter stand-off with some of the country’s top runners, following the athletes’ abysmal performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Maketela has called for a fresh start.
“We are going to make sure that the association helps and supports elite athletes who want to run in South African marathons. We have a good working relationship with our South African counterparts, which makes it easy for us to support our athletes.”
Maketela, meanwhile, said his office had already drawn up a strategic plan that was approved at the weekend AGM. He also revealed the association has amended the LAAA constitution, in order to include crucial statutes such as those dealing with doping tests.
The move, according to Maketela, comes after a local athlete — Sekeke Lesole — was found guilty of using drugs at the 2007 Lesotho High Altitude Summer Marathon in Mokhotlong. Lesole was subsequently slapped with a two-year suspension, which comes to an end next month.
 “We decided to amend the constitution and include a clause on doping, after the International Athletics Amateur Federation advised us on this matter,” he said.
“This advice came after one of our athletes was found guilty of using drugs at the Lesotho High Altitude Summer Marathon in Mokhotlong in 2007.”
Maketela told this newspaper he would ensure local athletics is not tainted by the use of drugs.
“As long as I am the leader, I will make sure that our athletes remain clean,” he said.
Maketela — who is also a committee member of the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission and the Lesotho National Olympic Committee and Lesotho High School sports-master — previously served as  general secretary of the Lesotho Universities Sport Association  and the-then Lesotho Sports Council.

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