The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), together with affiliates, has enacted a new rule, which moves to tackle the issue of athletes’ signing exploitative contracts with third parties.
The new rule is part of a comprehensive code of conduct for BNOC and its affiliates. The new code of conduct was rectified and agreed to by the BNOC family at its recent workshop and formerly adopted at their Ordinary General Assembly this past week.
In a move which is said to be ‘taking the interests of the athletes at heart,’ the BNOC and its affiliates have resolved to stop local athletes from signing contracts with third parties without consulting the national federations or the BNOC first.
According to the rule, ‘Athletes will not enter into any contractual obligations under any circumstances with any third party without the express written consent of the National Federation and the BNOC.’
Speaking in an interview, BNOC Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho, said the move was made to protect the welfare of athletes.
“Most of our athletes have never signed contracts before and they are not aware of how contracts should be. This move is to ensure that the BNOC and the National Federation of the concerned athlete can look at the contract and give the athlete advice before he/she commits to signing it,” Serufho explained.
He further stated that this move is not meant to dissuade or prohibit athletes from signing, but rather to ensure that they do not fall victim to exploitation.
“Once an athlete brings the contract before us, we will go through it with him/her to see if it’s any good and give appropriate advice. From there on, it will be an athlete’s decision whether he/she signs the contract based on the advice we gave. All this rule seeks to do is ensure that athletes get the best advice before agreeing to any contract.” He said to ensure that the athletes get the best possible legal advice before signing any contracts, legal advisers have been roped to help athletes. While the BNOC and the National Federations will not stand in the way of signing contracts as long as they have seen the contract and given advice, the BNOC CEO said any failure to notify the BNOC and a National Federation will be deemed a breach of the code of conduct and proper penalty will be taken against the concerned athlete.
Still on the revamped code of conduct, the BNOC and its affiliates have also decided to rein in the athletes’ use of communication, including social media. According to Serufho, the move was done to ensure that in-house affairs of the BNOC and National Federations are not exposed in public. Asked whether this rule will not be used to encroach on the athletes’ freedom of expression, the BNOC CEO said the rule will mostly be used to deal with extreme circumstances.
“We are not trying to stop them from expressing their opinions. Rather, we are against a situation whereby athletes will use the social media or any communications avenue to say unsavory things against supervisors, athletes and other staff. This is also to stop them from exposing personal confidential information of others to the public,” he explained.
Serufho said this is also meant to ensure that sport, BNOC, National Federations and other stakeholders are not brought into disrepute. While no punitive measures are in place at the moment for the offences against breach of code of conduct, the BNOC CEO said the process is underway to put them in place.