Youth Olympic gold medallist, Martha Bissah, has been suspended indefinitely by the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA) for indiscipline and bringing the name of the association into disrepute.
According to the General Secretary of the GAA, Phillipina Frimpong, Martha’s suspension letter was drafted on May 23 but she has since been evasive and refused to receive the document anytime officials of the GAA try to serve her.
The suspension bars Martha from competing in GAA-sanctioned events, as well as represent the nation at any international athletics competition.
It comes in the wake of over a year of media rows involving the Executive Board of the athletics federation led by its president, Professor Francis Dodoo, and the athlete’s camp which is comprised of her guardian, Mikki Osei Berko and his close confidantes, George Lutterodt and Kweku Nimako.
The development marks a stunning fall from grace for the 18-year-old who has struggled to reproduce her gold-medal winning feat at the 2014 Youth Olympics Games in Nanjing, China, where she completed the 800 metres race in a time of 2:04.90 minutes even though she has since competed on poor tracks including grass and cinder.
A state-sponsored athletic scholarship offered her by President John Mahama to study and develop her sporting abilities in the United States has also remained elusive.
The source disclosed that Martha drew the ire of the GAA executive Board for consistently absenting herself from scheduled welfare meetings.
“She had avoided meetings with the GAA but at the last Circuit Championships which took place at El-Wak, the GAA Executive Board once again reached out to her but she left the venue without speaking to them,” Phillipina stated.
“After several back and forths involving the GAA and her guardian, Mr Berko finally granted the GAA audience with Martha. She came to the meeting with her brother and Mr Nimako who the association does not recognise as a representative of the athlete”.
“When Mr. Nimako was asked to leave the meeting, Martha said she cannot participate in the meeting without him so she followed him out. That was when the decision was taken to suspend her indefinitely although she has since refused to accept her suspension letter on countless occasions,” she added.
Martha’s guardian, Mr Berko said he was not aware of the suspension of his ward urging the GAA to be more merciful and professional with the youngster.
Meanwhile, Mr George Haldane Lutterodt, one of the benefactors of Martha Bissah, has vowed to go to court to overturn the decision of the GAA.
He stated that the GAA could not act as a law to itself and, therefore, called on the Youth and Sports Minister, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, to call the association to order.
Mr Lutterodt, who described the GAA’s decision as reckless, vindictive and witch-hunting, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that it was born out of hatred for the young girl who spoke her mind about the ill-treatment being meted out to her by the GAA.
“This is illegal; the due process was not followed and we don’t suspend an athlete indefinitely,” an angry Lutteordt noted.
According to him, the action taken by the GAA smacked of victimisation, since Martha was neither forewarned nor given a hearing.
The former chairman of the GAA stated that the reasons given by the GAA for Martha’s suspension were untenable.
The GAA on May 23 suspended Martha Bissau on grounds of disrespect, not honouring an invitation and bringing the name of the association into disrepute.